A fast food restaurant chain serving American Chinese cuisine has submitted plans for the site of the former Golden Corral.
Panda Express, the largest Asian restaurant chain in the United States with 2,200 locations, is set to build on the lot located at 2830 W. 18th Ave.
City of Emporia Planning and Zoning Specialist Joe Foster said this project has been underway for the last 12 — 18 months, with the group receiving a sign variance last year.
“They have submitted formal planning for a Panda Express,” Foster said. “Now it’s official.”
Foster said he was not sure what the timeline was for the restaurant’s opening, but groundwork has already started on the site. He said it was his understanding that the former Golden Corral building, which has been empty since the buffet closed on Aug. 1, 2013, will be demolished.
“That might not happen right away, and they might even construct the new building without demolishing the existing one,” Foster said. “The lot is big enough.”
Foster said he believes a Panda Express will draw visitors off of the interstate. He does not believe it will affect existing Asian restaurants in Emporia.
“I think it’s good for our community,” he said.
Foster said there are plans for an eventual lot split in the future for more development opportunities.
“It’s a pretty big lot,” he said. “As of right now, Panda Express is the only business putting a building up at this time, but it does have the potential for some more growth in the area.”
The Gazette has reached out to Panda Express Corporate Headquarters for more information. We will update with more information as it becomes available.