Panda Express, which opened in late December, joins Chick-fil-a, Taco Bell and Subway as a dining option in the Student Center.
Despite the fact that it opened the week after school ended last semester, the new dining option received a great deal of business.
Panda express replaced Burger Bytes which closed last Spring due to middling sales and lack of student interest. One reason for the performance, according to Steele, was the location.
“To us it was just tucked away,” Steele said. “It was a little bit in a nook and tucked way back. Retail is generally is focused a lot on location so if it’s not a visible location, it’s going to struggle.”
As a result, Tech and Panda express changed the surrounding space to make the location more accessible.
“One of the things we did was opening up the entrance so the opening is twice as large as it was before,” Steele said. “I think we’ve done a lot to make it more accessible and more visible.”
One of the challenges with updating the space was that it was very small.
“It’s a tight space,” Steele said. “The student center is a very very tight facility and I guess you would know that the place was built in 1970 and we have expanded greatly from that time period.”
According to Steele, one of the reasons that Panda Express was chosen was that there was significant demand for Asian food. Of the 10 food trucks, 3 serve Asian food and make up 50% of sales.
“There is significant interest in additional Asian food,” Steele said. “We also did surveys recently and the number one requested ethnic concept was Asian so we knew that we could use more Asian on campus.”
Panda Express is open Monday through Friday.