Panda Express chain coming to Altoona

An Asian-American fast food restaurant chain with an appetite for growth is coming this year to Park Hills Plaza.

Panda Express, which began in California 35 years ago and which has 2,000 locations worldwide, is expanding across the U.S., according to Jessica Ordona, regional real estate manager for Panda Restaurant Group.

The chain entered the Pittsburgh market five years ago and now has stores in West Mifflin, Robinson, Monroeville, Fox Chapel and Cranberry Township, along with two in State College.

Altoona is the “next logical town” that will allow Panda to link those two areas, according to Ordona, who said the northeast U.S. is “one of our largest

expansion” targets.

The restaurant will go where Casual Male XL is now, according to Cassandra Schmick, planning director for Logan Township. Supervisors approved a land development plan for the project at a recent meeting.

Workers will demolish the existing building and construct a 2,200-square-foot restaurant that will seat about 45, according to Ordona.

Construction will begin in the summer and end in November, weather permitting — and depending on decisions by the landlord, Ordona said.

The store will employ 30 to 45, a mix of full and part timers, she said.

Panda Express employs 25,000 and grosses $2 billion a year, according to the website.

Casual Male XL will remain open until Feb. 22, according to its assistant manager Connor Martin, who said the store’s lease was sold.

The 23-year-old store, one of 280 in the clothing chain, will not relocate, and the five employees — including two full -timers — will be losing their jobs, said Martin.

The store is conducting a going-out-of-business sale.

Unsold items will go to other stores, Martin said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.