THE MONEY: Sales at Panda Restaurant Group – including restaurant chains Panda Express, Panda Inn and Hibachi San – last year topped $2 billion for first time.
BUZZ: Cherngs, who opened nearly 100 Panda Express restaurants last year, taking fast-casual Asian dining plan international with forays into Canada and Mexico. Couple owns vast majority of stores in 1,607-unit Chinese food chain. Also own seven sit-down Panda Inn restaurants and 22-unit Japanese food chain Hibachi San. Active in entrepreneurial and political circles. Both have donated to national and local political campaigns, including Mitt Romney’s presidential bid and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s mayoral campaign. Accompanied Garcetti on trade mission to Mexico, where they are looking to expand footprint beyond present 16 Panda Express stores. Andrew, born in China’s Jiangsu province, came to United States in 1966. Opened first Panda Inn restaurant in 1973 with $300,000 and help from father, chef Ming Tsai Cherng. Panda Express launched in 1983 at Glendale Galleria. Burmese-born Peggy, computer engineer, joined Panda in 1982. Couple shares chairman-chief executive titles. Both proponents of self-help programs such as Landmark Education and recommend employees read from list of books on leadership.
$2.89 billion s5%
LAST YEAR: $2.75 billion
AGES: Andrew, 67; Peggy, 65
RESIDENCE: South Pasadena
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Restaurants
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