The average American-Chinese fast food restaurant general manager makes $56,712, according to Salary.com, but it seems that the average Panda Express manager does slightly better. That fact recently got some attention when a mathematics professor named James Bagley tweeted that his salary, at $69,000 per year plus bonus, is nearly $10,000 less than the amount earned by a Panda Express restaurant manager.
The comment sparked quite the backlash, with some Twitter users dragging the tweeter into an unrelated debate over whether or not the difference in pay is relevant. Others were more interested in what Bagley might have been trying to get at by comparing his income to that of a Panda Express manager.
Before there was a Panda Express in every mall across America, there was a small sit-down restaurant called Panda Inn in 1973. The Cherngs, immigrants from Burma and China, used a loan from the Small Business Administration to open the restaurant, which eventually led to the creation of Panda Express, the chain’s buffet-style restaurants that spoon up populist Chinese-American dishes in more than 1,800 locations worldwide.
Andrea Cherng, chief marketing officer of Panda Restaurant Group and the 37-year-old daughter of the chain’s founders, says there are two prevailing views about how mainstream America perceives the chain. At the company’s headquarters in Rosemead, Calif., the cubicles are decorated with motivational posters and Stephen Covey books, and employees are encouraged to enroll in human-potential seminars.