Categories
Fast Food

These 5 Fast Food Chains Have Halted Operations in Russia

On February 24th, Russia launched a coordinated attack on the country of Ukraine. The attack is the latest in a long and complex history between the two countries, which involves on-going conflict dating back to 1922. In an effort to impede Russia’s invasion, the western world has banded together. News reports that the Russian economy is taking a hit due to sanctions being imposed, but signs of cease fire have yet to show.

Social media has helped to raise worldwide awareness of the Ukrainian plight and inspire many to support. From individuals with small platforms to major outlets, everyone is standing with Ukraine. Aside from sanctions, food is another industry taking a hit in Russia as many major chains have chosen to halt local operations. Below I’ve compiled a list of fast food chains that have suspended operations in Russia. 

Photo: Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose

McDonald’s

The godfather of all fast food chains, McDonald’s, just announced that they are temporarily closing their 850 locations in Russia. This is particularly significant due to McDonald’s being one of the longest running western fast food chains in the country, first opening in 1990. Unlike here in the states where most McDonald’s are franchises, in Russia, 84% are owned by McDonalds. With an employee-base of 62,000, the decision to halt operations dealt a major blow.

Photo: Achim Hepp

Starbucks

With 130 licensed locations in Russia and Ukraine, Starbucks has become somewhat of a staple. Following McDonald’s announcement to temporarily suspend operations, they joined in solidarity. While a cease fire is uncertain, Starbucks will continue to provide support for their employees through the suspension period.

Photo By: SarychevaEkaterina

KFC, Taco Bell & Pizza Hut

Yum! Brands Inc., which owns KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut has also decided to shut down their operations. In Russia, there’s over 1,000 KFC locations and 50 Pizza Huts. Previously, the company had been opening 100 new KFC locations each year. This drastic shift is sure to be felt in Russia’s belly.

Photo By: Ildar Sagdejev

Papa Johns

Well known and loved worldwide, Papa Johns has 186 locations in Russia, or 8% of all the chain’s restaurants. Condemning Russia’s attack on Ukraine, they’ve also decided to stop all operational, marketing and business support to the Russian market.

Photo By: Coolcaesar

Panda Express

The latest fast food chain joining in protest against Russia’s actions is Panda Express. They’ve chosen to not only cease current business operations in the country, but future plans as well. To show further support, they’re partnering with the Red Cross to provide essential aid to Ukrainian refugees with a pledge of up to $2 million through the Panda Cares Foundation fundraising program and a dollar-for-dollar corporate match.

In addition to fast food, beverage giants Coca Cola and Pepsi have both halted operations in Russia. They’re joined by a broad range of companies unifying in defiance of Russia’s actions and in support of the Ukrainian people.

While talks of cease fire have unfortunately stalled, we all wait in hope that this war reaches a peaceful end.

Categories
Fast Food Plant-Based Restaurants

Mapo Tofu’s Spicy, Addictive Heat Goes Plant-Based At Panda Express

Photo courtesy of Panda Express

Few things are more comforting in life than a steamy bowl of mapo tofu. This classic Sichuan dish has a warm and addictive heat that will leave your heart and your stomach buzzing with happiness.

For the first time ever, those flavors are coming to Panda Express, as the American Chinese chain is adding the Chengdu signature to its ranks as part of a new plant-based partnership with Beyond Meat.

This dish marks the second ever tofu dish to be served at Panda Express, the first being their hallmark Eggplant Tofu. Here, they’re incorporating tofu and chunks of Beyond Beef in a Sichuan Garlic sauce.

Traditionally, mapo tofu is made with pork or beef, although there are plenty of plant-based versions you can find on the internet. Some of these use finely chopped mushrooms or a ground pork substitute, but Beyond Meat is also a common option.

Panda Express has begun serving the Mapo Tofu with Beyond Beef at their innovation kitchen location in Pasadena. It’ll be there until February 23rd alongside a String Beans with Beyond Beef dish, and if both perform well, there’s definitely potential for the dishes to launch on a broader scale.

Categories
Fast Food Plant-Based

Panda Express Expands Launch of Plant-Based Orange Chicken

Earlier this year we reported on plant-based Orange Chicken coming to Panda Express via Beyond Meat, and after a successful test launch in New York City and Southern California this past summer, Beyond The Original Orange Chicken will now be available to a wider audience.

Beyond The Original Orange Chicken is the plant-based version of Panda Express’ iconic Orange Chicken and will be see a wider launch starting Wednesday, October 27, 2021.

Fans can try Beyond The Original Orange Chicken at 70 select locations in California, New York, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, Florida, Washington, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Check here for a full list of participating locations.

Categories
Fast Food News What's New

Panda Express To Test An Orange Chicken Sandwich

Orange Chicken is to Panda Express like simping is to Drake — it’s the money making formula here. Which is why Panda Express has innovated different ways to present their menu favorite in the past, like Orange Chicken Burritos. This time they’re hopping on the chicken sando wave by testing a new Orange Chicken Sandwich at the Panda Express Innovation Kitchen in Pasadena, California.

The exciting test item incorporates breaded white meat chicken breast that’s then topped with that cash cow Orange Chicken and a spicy aioli sauce, on top of a bed of shredded cabbage and thick crinkle cut bread and butter pickles, all cozied up between a sweet King’s Hawaiian bun. Yum.

You can grab this Orange Chicken Sandwich exclusively at the Panda Express Innovation Kitchen in Pasadena, CA on September 16.  

Categories
Fast Food Plant-Based

Plant-Based Orange Chicken Is Coming To Panda Express Via Beyond Meat

Photos courtesy of Panda Express

There’s already a fast-growing market for plant-based American Chinese dishes like Orange Chicken and Honey Walnut Shrimp. Panda Express is taking advantage of that opportunity with a new meat-free version of their legendary Orange Chicken.

Panda teamed up with plant-based meat purveyor Beyond Meat for their new vegan option. Beyond, who just launched their own plant-based tenders, also has meat-free chicken projects ongoing with fast food giants like KFC.

Beyond Meat brought their new plant-based chicken to the collab, while Panda provided their classic Orange Sauce to give the dish its signature flavor without any of the poultry.

For those looking for plant-based side or alternative protein options, Panda recommends any of their sides (Chow Mein, White Rice, Brown Rice, or Veggies) and also has an Eggplant Tofu entree. With this new partnership with Beyond Meat, there’s also an open opportunity for the two to collab more in the future. Plant-based Ma Po Tofu, anyone?

Panda’s plant-based Orange Chicken will be available in select locations in New York and Southern California starting July 26th for a limited time. One can only hope that this will eventually scale to a nationwide, permanent menu item for plant-based or flexitarian consumers.

Categories
Fast Food

Panda Express x Anti Social Social Club Apparel Is Dropping REAL SOON

Photo Courtesy of Panda Express

Fans of streetwear and orange chicken will have a pretty big reason to be excited this weekend.

Panda Express has announced its first-ever collaboration with popular streetwear brand Anti Social Social Club.

Photo Courtesy of Panda Express

The apparel will feature both brands’ logo joined together with Panda Express’ most popular menu item: Orange Chicken. Items include hoodies, hats, and t-shirts.

Photo Courtesy of Panda Express

Anyone wanting to cop some of this exclusive merch will need to visit Antisocialsocialclub.com on Saturday, July 11 at 8:00am PST, where the collaboration sale will go live and remain until supplies last. With how prolific both brands are, we can’t imagine that being for more than 5 minutes, to be honest. Better set those alarms, folks.

Categories
News Restaurants What's New

Panda Express Introduces ‘Best Sellers Only’ Menu in Effort to Support Store Associates

Photo: Panda Express

Businesses aren’t pulling any stops in their efforts to adjust to a post-coronavirus world. While most are observing stay-at-home orders, service workers and others on the front line are doing what they can to keep economies from falling into a state of total chaos. This includes restaurants, grocery stores, post offices and public transportation. Despite the clear risk involved, if there’s a positive take away from all of this, it’s that the corona pandemic is bringing humanity together. 

For well known eatery Panda Express, that togetherness comes in the form of a truncated menu which consists only of their bestsellers. The goal is to lower the risk of spreading the virus to employees and customers by limiting the number of options offered.

Food preparation plays a large role in Panda Express’ decision and with a rise in take-out orders, a simpler menu will help employees working long hours. The temporary menu change will look something like this:

  • Original Orange Chicken® 
  • Broccoli Beef 
  • Grilled Teriyaki Chicken 
  • Kung Pao Chicken 
  • Mushroom Chicken 
  • Honey Walnut Shrimp 
  • Sweetfire Chicken Breast 
  • Firecracker Shrimp  
  • New Black Pepper Angus Steak 

These changes went into effect on Monday, April 6th at all nationwide locations and remain in effect until further notice. To further increase the safety of Panda Express employees and customers, contactless service will be rolled out at all locations. Each Panda Express will have designated areas for walk-up ordering and separate designated areas for pick-up.

As we collectively push through this trying time, it’s not only important to maintain a healthy outlook, but also a healthy appetite. You can order Panda Express’ famous orange chicken here.

Categories
Fast Food Restaurants

Panda Express Is Testing Out Pastrami Bao Buns At Their Innovation Kitchen

It seems Panda Express has been tinkering more and more with fusing flavors of Eastern dishes with Western comfort foods as of late. A few months back, the chain introduced a new protein that combined the traditional flavors of Sichuan peppercorns with the Southern heat of Nashville Hot Chicken.

In what appears to be a delicious trend, Panda Express has announced another new flavor combination that’s hitting their Innovation Kitchen in Pasadena, CA. Feast your eyes on the Pastrami Bao Buns.

The new item combines the popular Taiwanese street food of Pork Belly Bao Buns with the classic American deli staple the Pastrami Sandwich. Pork Belly is slow cooked, Hickory liquid smoked, blended with pastrami spices, and topped with pickled cucumbers before going inside an airy bao bun. Finally, the dish is slathered with a sweet and savory sauce to bring it all together.

Be still my pastrami-loving belly.

You can find this item only at the Panda Express Innovation Kitchen in Pasadena, CA. If popular enough, we can expect to see the Pastrami Bao Buns arrive at restaurants on a national scale. Until then, I’ll need to find some time on my calendar to drive out and try the new dish.