Panda Restaurants, Born in Pasadena, Brings "Love" to Southern California

Published : Friday, March 2, 2018 | 6:54 AM

"Love" to Southern California

Andrew and Peggy Cherng, co-founders and owners of the worldwide Panda Restaurants Group started in Pasadena with a single restaurant, unveiled California’s first Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture at the Panda Restaurant Group Support Center in Rosemead.

The artwork, unveiled Tuesday, becomes the first permanently installed LOVE Sculpture in the state.

As a gift to Panda Restaurant Group and the community from the Cherng family, the LOVE Sculpture is now prominently on display for Panda associates, and the public, to visit and take pictures.

The company said the sculpture is a gift purchased by the Cherngs and is meant to “inspire and remind employees and passersby of the impact love has on everyday actions.”

“The Love Sculpture reminds us to take a stand for ourselves, so that we can stand for others,” Panda’s co-founders said in a statement. “At Panda Express, our mission is to inspire better lives. In order for us to do this, we have to be the best versions of ourselves and we get to this by embracing love. With love, the possibilities are enormous. Love is about working harder, being more accepting and growing personally, so that you can be the best version of yourself and in turn become a role model to help others.”

The LOVE sculpture is a pop art image created by Robert Indiana, consisting of the letters LO over the letters VE; the O is canted sideways so that its oblong negative space creates a line leading to the V. The original image, with green and blue backing its red lettering, served as a print image for a Museum of Modern Art Christmas card in 1964.

The original rendering of the sculpture was made in 1970 and is now displayed at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Indiana. Indiana’s LOVE design has since been reproduced in a variety of formats for rendering in displays around the world.

“When our associates and the community see the Love Sculpture, we hope that it encourages them to think about how they behave toward each other,” the Cherngs said. “We also hope that the Love Sculpture reminds our associates and the community that Panda is focused on caring and appreciating them.”

Established as a restaurant in a trailer called Panda Inn on East Foothill Blvd. in Pasadena in 1973, Panda Express now sells more than $2 billion dollars worth of broccoli beef and orange chicken every year. The vast restaurant empire stretches out to some 2,000 restaurants around the world and employs more than 18,000 people. The original Pasadena location is thriving.

Early last year, the Cherngs made a $30 million gift to Caltech to name and endow the Andrew and Peggy Cherng Department of Medical Engineering, their first major philanthropic investment.

“We wanted our first major commitment to make a meaningful connection, so we gave to a school that is located in the same city where we started,” Andrew Cherng said last year, adding that many Caltech faculty have become regular Panda Inn guests over the years.

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