Panda Express opens in Garrett

JEFF BROWN/HERALD WKU’s Panda Express opened on campus over fall break. Monday was the grand opening.

Quiche Matchen

After weeks of waiting, WKU has a new, different food option on campus.

Panda Express had a “soft opening” last Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A soft opening is when a restaurant is open for a limited amount of time for a trial run. It opened Monday.

Gary Meszaros, assistant vice president for Auxiliary Services, said the Thursday soft opening was successful.

“It was a soft opening. We weren’t advertising it a lot, but it was jam packed,” Meszaros said.

Meszaros said construction was one of the major reasons why the restaurant was delayed. Panda Express was set to open at the start of the fall semester.

The renovation of an auditorium space above the Garrett Food Court into the restaurant began in May.

Bryan Russell, director of planning, design and construction, told the Herald in May that out of all the summer projects, Panda Express was the most likely to be delayed.

“If anything would be late, it would be that one, because it’s something they could keep working on a couple of weeks into the semester,” Russell said at the time.

Meszaros said health inspections and worker training caused other delays. He said even with the delay, he thinks the first week will be busy.

“It’s a very popular venue and we’re expecting huge crowds,” he said.

Students who tried the new option had mixed opinions on the soft opening.

Louisville sophomore Tiana Rutledge said she’s excited about the new food option.

“I’m absolutely grateful for the rice and chicken,” Rutledge said.  Now we have more variety and I will definitely be eating there a lot.”

Rutledge said it was “about time Panda Express opened” because everybody has been waiting for it.

Eddyville graduate student Julia Freeman said she isn’t excited about the new food option.

“I hate the smell of Japanese (sic) food so it’s not going to be frequented by me and my friends,” Freeman said. “I think their food will just make the walk to classes in Cherry more filled with the smell of Ramen noodles.”

Freeman said this isn’t something she wants to spend her money on.

“I’d rather my tuition dollars be spent on things I actually use, like classroom technology renovations,” she said.

Danville junior Kelly Colwell said she enjoyed Panda Express but wants more items for meal plans.

“It was really good, but they were really busy,” Colwell said. “I think they should let students use meal plans for items other than the meal plan food.”