10 Things You Didn’t Know About Andrew Cherng

The founder of the esteemed Panda Express, Andrew Cherng, is inarguably an inspiration to many aspiring entrepreneurs across the globe. Andrew’s astute understanding of the market and remarkable resilience did not only lead to the birth of one of the most beloved fast-food chains but also ensured its continuance at the zenith of success. However, there is so much more to Andrew Cherng than Panda Express. Here are the top 10 things you probably didn’t know about this phenomenal business personality.

1. His Humble Beginnings

Born on 26th October 1948, Andrew Cherng hails from Yangzhou, China, though he was raised in Taiwan. His parents relocated to Yokohama, Japan, where they opened a restaurant, marking his initial contact with the food industry. His family’s humble livelihood played a massive role in molding his perspective toward hard work and entrepreneurship.

Before he took culinary aspirations on board, Andrew crossed the ocean to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Applied Mathematics from the renowned Baker University and the University of Missouri, respectively. He worked multiple jobs to finance his education, therefore confirming that every success indeed has a humble beginning.

2. He Didn’t Start with Panda Express

As intriguing as it is, the first official step of Andrew Cherng into the food industry was not Panda Express. It was actually a restaurant called Panda Inn, which he opened in Pasadena, California in 1973 along with his father. Panda Inn was an upscale sit-down restaurant, quite contrary to the fast food Panda Express franchise we know today.

Panda Inn made quite an impression in the US, igniting the American’s love for Chinese cuisine that eventually resulted in the inception of Panda Express. Today, although Panda Express is quite popular, Panda Inn is equally beloved for its exquisite dining experience.

3. His Entrepreneurial Journey Started from a Cookbook

Andrew Cherng’s journey into the entrepreneurial world started when he stumbled upon his father’s cookbook. The cookbook not only had recipes but also a great deal about the philosophy of running a restaurant. Andrew was struck by how these ideas seamlessly translated into the business landscape—and it ignited an entrepreneurial spark.

This spark eventually turned into a roaring fire when Andrew opened Panda Inn. His founding philosophy revolved around the belief that food could be a way of fostering connection and understanding between cultures—an ideology he has firmly upheld to this very day.

4. His Wife is a Panda Express Co-Founder

Andrew Cherng is not the sole brain behind Panda Express. Peggy Cherng, Andrew’s wife, also played an integral role in Panda Express’s foundation and its meteoric rise in the food industry.

An electrical engineer by education, Peggy brought in her knowledge of systems and technology, which was eventually instrumental in the huge success of the venture. Their combined efforts have indeed bolstered the brand to the pinnacle of the industry.

5. His Net Worth is Nearly $3.4 Billion

This shouldn’t come as a surprise given the magnitude of the Panda Express franchise. Andrew Cherng’s net worth is a staggering $3.4 billion, according to Forbes.

This immense wealth is not just a testament to the success of Panda Express, but also Andrew’s incredible business acumen. It is an inspiring reminder to all of us that, with consistent effort and smart moves, one can create a global empire from scratch.

6. He’s a Philanthropist

A considerable portion of Andrew Cherng’s success also lies in his philanthropy. The Panda Cares Foundation, established by Cherng in 1999, has raised millions of dollars for the health and education of underprivileged children in the U.S.

Beyond financial contributions, Andrew believes in giving back to society through knowledge sharing. He often holds entrepreneurship lectures at universities to enlighten the younger generation about leveraging the right opportunities.

7. He Incubates Other Businesses

Andrew Cherng doesn’t limit himself to Panda Express. He has launched Panda Restaurant Venture, an incubator for potential new food-related operations. This project exhibits not only his entrepreneurial flair but also his commitment to promoting and supporting other fledgling businesses.

This venture currently operates Just Cool by Coolgreens and Uncle Tetsu. It’s through such initiatives that Andrew extends his vast knowledge and experience in the culinary industry to upcoming endeavours.

8. He is a Fan of Big Technologies

Although a food entrepreneur at heart, Andrew Cherng possesses a diverse interest in technology. Thanks to his wife’s influence, Cherng has always been at the forefront of employing technology to enhance his business operations.

From kitchen order technology to digital menu boards, Cherng always ensures Panda Express is ahead in assimilating and exploiting future-ready technologies.

9. He Believes in Servant Leadership

Andrew Cherng is an embodiment of servant leadership. He places utmost importance on his employees’ welfare, viewing them as a vital part of the Panda Express family. He believes in investing in his staff, helping them grow both personally and professionally.

His unique leadership style serves as a reminder that good business isn’t just about profits but about creating a healthy work environment that nurtures growth and fulfillment.

10. He’s Not Planning Retirement Anytime Soon

Even at the age of 73, Andrew Cherng shows no signs of slowing down. He plans to continue his work with Panda Express, carrying forward his parents’ legacy and the rich traditions of Chinese cuisine they introduced to the United States.

As an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and leader, Andrew Cherng continues to inspire many, proving that passion and hard work know no age.

Useful Links:

Andrew Cherng – Wikipedia
Andrew Cherng – Forbes
Andrew Cherng – Inc