$2.75 billion 31%
LAST YEAR: $2.1 billion
AGES: Andrew, 65; Peggy, 62
RESIDENCE: South Pasadena
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Restaurants
THE MONEY: Sales at Panda Restaurant Group, including restaurant chains Panda Express, Panda Inn and Hibachi San, rose to almost $1.8 billion in 2012.
BUZZ: Cherngs opened more than 100 Panda Express restaurants in last year and expect to open at least as many next year; planning first foray into Canada. Couple owns vast majority of stores in 1,533-unit Chinese food chain. Also own seven sit-down Panda Inn restaurants and 27-unit Japanese chain Hibachi San. Couple active in entrepreneurial and political circles. Andrew invested in startup fast-casual pizza chain Blaze Pizza, co-founded last year by fellow food-court couple Rick and Elise Wetzel. Andrew and Peggy together donated to variety of national and local political campaigns, including Mitt Romney’s presidential bid and Congresswoman Judy Chu. Andrew co-founded Panda Restaurant Group in 1973 with $300,000 and help from his father, chef Ming Tsai Cherng. Peggy trained as computer engineer; joined Panda in 1982. The two share chairman-chief executive titles. Both proponents of self-help programs such as Landmark Education and recommend employees read a list of books on leadership, including Steven Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson.
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