The newest addition to Tanglewood Mall has opened its doors as the center continues to usher in a wave of redevelopment and new tenants.
Panda Express, a popular fast-casual eatery known for its orange chicken and other signature dishes, has made its first foray into the Roanoke market with the grand opening of its location on Electric Road.
The 1,700-square-foot restaurant, which includes a drive-thru, is part of a slate of new destinations setting up in a newly constructed outparcel of the mall. Chipotle and Jersey Mike’s are also now open. Blaze Pizza, another first for the region, is set to open soon.
Tanglewood Mall, a circa-1970s shopping hub spanning nearly 800,000 square feet, has landed a string of new tenants in recent months.
A much-anticipated Chili’s Grill & Bar, as well as a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, are gearing up to start construction on new outparcels. Inside the mall itself, Chicken Salad Chick took over the footprint previously occupied by Applebee’s and Burlington Department Store just announced it was moving into the former Stein Mart storefront.
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“We continue to see revitalization coming to this corridor, and that means our entire region is only going to get stronger,” Roanoke Regional Chamber President Joyce Waugh said during Panda Express’s March 30 opening celebration.
Customers began filtering into the new Panda Express within minutes of its opening. The California-based company has restaurants in Christiansburg and Blacksburg but is marking its debut in the Roanoke Valley.
It already has plans to open a second location at Valley View Mall in the fall. The expansion of the restaurant’s territory comes in response to customer demand, said Brian Soriano, an area manager.
“For years, we’ve been getting that feedback from our guests at the Christiansburg and Blacksburg locations,” he said. “People actually drive from Roanoke to get their Panda Express, and they have been asking for Panda to open in Roanoke.”
The Tanglewood location offers a dining room that can seat more than 60. It has hired a staff of 35 with plans to hire at least 20 more to meet projected demand.
The company has long made it a point to offer wages that beat industry averages, Soriano said. Front-of-house staffers make a starting rate of $15 per hour, and back-of-house hires start at $16 per hour.
On its menu, in addition to long-time favorites, the chain has been adding health-minded options, including super greens, brown rice and lighter-calorie entrees.
Panda Express, located at 4458 Electric Road Ste. A, will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.