Photo from Creative Commons
On the southwest side of the Memorial Union Commons sits Panda Express, a restaurant that serves Chinese cuisine to Oregon State students, faculty and visitors. Those walking through the MU quad outside cannot cross without catching a tantalizing whiff of orange chicken.
Kevin Herren, a manager at Panda Express, has been working there for over seven years. His favorite dish is the green bean chicken, and sometimes eats there on his off days to the astonishment of his coworkers.
“We’re different from fast food. We hold a high standard, you know, try to be a sit-down kind of restaurant,” Herren said. “This location is a little different in its layout and clientele, but we still hold a high standard.”
On any given weekday at lunchtime, one can find long lines in front of the Panda Express counter. Signs laid out by Commons staff ask patrons to queue respectfully in anticipation for their lunch.
“We do have pretty long lines. It’s interesting to stand back and just watch them, they do move quickly,” Herren said. “My goal is by spring to have a five-minute-or-less wait, no matter how long the line.”
According to Herren, the campus affinity for Panda Express is reflected back in the staff.
“My favorite thing is that I look out on the Commons and see the people eating the food that I’ve cooked. To me food can bring people together,” Herren said. “I can see people socializing over the food I’ve prepared and
I feel connected.”