The state's first Panda Express, located at Anchorage's Tikahtnu Commons, began serving food last month. According to the company, that restaurant won't be the last.
Ray Yeung, Panda Express' multi-unit manager who oversees the Alaska and Hawaii locations, said another Panda Express is set to open in Wasilla next month. There are six more restaurants planned in Anchorage, two in Fairbanks and one in Juneau, but those don't have opening dates yet.
Yeung said Panda Express has looked at entering the Alaska market for a while, but decided to seriously explore opening in the state two years ago.
The chain, which has over 1,800 locations around the world, is still family owned and does not franchise. The fast-food restaurants are commonly found in shopping malls, though the company's presence has expanded to everything from theme parks to military bases. The Anchorage restaurant will add 30 new jobs to the local economy, according to the company.
The chain will mark the occasion with a grand opening celebration 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday, with proceeds going to Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Alaska and Bartlett High School. The first 300 guests will also receive special prizes and Panda Express coupons.