Are Chinese Restaurant Chains Closing Locations in 2022?

Joel Eisenberg

Individual location closures have continued with prominent Chinese food chains on a case-by-case basis, but do these actions portend larger business issues for any of the companies moving forward?

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Panda ExpressShutterstock

Authors Note

This article represents the latest in a series that attempts to elucidate the truth behind internet rumors of business closures, and is based on corporate postings and accredited media reports. Linked information within this article is attributed to the following outlets: Mashed.com, RestaurantBusinessOnline.com, TellerReport.com, TheStoreClosing.com, DailyIllini.com, and The Asian American Policy Review.

Introduction

In a May, 2022 update to a previously published article of the same title, “Chinese Chain Restaurants Ranked Worst to Best,” Mashed.com lists several of the restaurants we will feature here: P.F. Chang’s, Panda Express, City Wok, and Pick Up Stix among them.

According to ScrapeHero.com, of those listed Panda Express is by far the largest in term of location count: There are 2,183 Panda Express locations in the United States as of July 05, 2022. The state with the most number of Panda Express locations in the US is California, with 595 locations, which is 27% of all Panda Express locations in America.

Though Chinese fast food chains differ, of course, from their traditional full-service restaurant brethren, widespread permanent 2020 and 2021 closures of the latter spilled over into the chain sector.

For the sake of perspective, an archived April, 2020 article from RestaurantBusinessOnline.com, “Half the Nation’s Chinese Restaurants Have Closed, Study Finds,” is included here as a reminder of early Covid-related fears that resulted in patrons foregoing Chinese food businesses: Roughly half the Chinese restaurants in the United States have closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a result in part of consumer prejudice and misperceptions, according to a new study.

The article breaks down further food businesses that shuttered and did not return, inclusive of Indian restaurants.

However, the fate of today’s major remaining Chinese food chains are largely consistent across-the-board.

Let us review further.

2022 Closures

A May, 2022 TellerReport.com article, “Rising Prices, Hard to Find Employees, Chinese Restaurants in Southern California Face a Wave of Closures,” addresses a growing issue: Wang Tieniu, vice president of the American Chinese Restaurant Association, has been in the catering industry for more than 40 years. In April this year, he closed his last restaurant in Southern California, "At the most, I owned nine restaurants in Southern California, but in the past three years I've sold all these restaurants one after another." Wang Tieniu's last restaurant is a well-known Sichuan restaurant, located in the bustling area of ​​Temple City, Los Angeles County. It opened in October last year at a cost of 150,000 renovations, but it has been in operation for less than half a year, and the restaurant officially closed on April 15.

The restaurants referenced above are traditional.

As to the relation? There is a distinction to be made between chains and fast food chains. P.F. Chang’s is an example of the former:

  • In August of last year, a prime P.F. Chang’s location unexpectedly closed in Santa Monica, California. See here for ToddRickAllen.com’s “P.F. Chang’s Disappearing Act In Santa Monica.”
  • TheStoreClosing.com lists a dialog of posters and commenters discussing other 2021 P.F. Change closures, including a permanent closure in El Segundo, California in September, and Tempe, Arizona in November.

On the fast food side:

  • A Panda Express closed since the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic, on Green Street in Illinois, reopened in December of last year. See The University of Illinois newsletter, DailyIllini.com, here.
  • Yelp reported a West Los Angeles location has shuttered, reasons unknown.
  • City Wok and Pick Up Stix have largely survived over the past year.

The state of U.S. Chinese restaurants in general have largely improved since the pandemic. According to The Asian American Policy Review, a Harvard Kennedy website, an April, 2021 feature article entitled “Chinese Restaurants: A History of Resilience,“ many of those still open during the writing of the piece were expected to survive.

Indeed, all restaurants listed in this article, particularly P.F. Chang’s and Panda Express, have since become among the top financial performers in their individual categories.

Conclusion

The Chinese food industry, as a collective of fast food and traditional restaurants, has seen survivors of the Covid-19 scourge thrive in most business metrics.

For now, the worst has passed, and no specific company closures have been formally announced for any restaurant chain listed herein, in 2022 or otherwise.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

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