Panda Express, the U.S.’s largest Asian restaurant chain, recently debuted a prototype honoring Chinese heritage and architecture, while also serving customer convenience.  

The store design, called Panda Home, opened in Dripping Springs, Texas, on May 10. It features Panda’s classic black and white color palette with red accents, accompanied by wood tones and a sweeping roofline. As customers walk in, they are greeted with a combination of traditional and modern motifs, including a moon gate-inspired entrance, neon signs, and a mural celebrating Chinese culture. Additionally, the drive-thru is lined with pictograms that tell an American Chinese story. 

The fast casual plans to expand the new format to new locations in several U.S. markets this year and in the future. 

Each detail of the building was intentional, from the terrazzo tables symbolizing Chinese New Year confetti to the traditional fretwork tiling and red lanterns. The prototype was brought to life by ChangeUp, a retail brand agency. 

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There’s also a first-of-its-kind Panda sculpture that showcases custom artwork by local Asian American artist Steffi Lynn, which highlights “the rich culture and beautiful landscape of Dripping Springs and the surrounding Austin area,” Panda said. 

To better accommodate customers, the prototype has a larger back-of-house area to improve speed of service. In exchange, seat count is 15 percent smaller than a typical Panda restaurant. 

“As the largest mom and pop Chinese restaurant in the U.S., Panda aims to uplift the local communities it serves,” Panda said. ” … Panda will continue to collaborate with talented local artists of diverse backgrounds who represent the multicultural communities where Panda opens restaurants for future Panda Sculptures.”

Design, Drive Thru, Fast Casual, Growth, Operations, Story, Panda Express