Dear Panda Express,
Look I'm a big fan of yours. I love the Mandarin sauce and I love your veggie spring rolls... I love that you have Dr Pepper at the fountain and I even love your little Panda logo. Pandas are cute, what's not to love about Panda bears?
What I don't love is this; going to one of your establishments and getting basically discriminated against because I'm a vegetarian. Don't get me wrong Panda, I get that the majority of the public isn't and majority rules in most businesses. And I do appreciate the few times when you do have a vegetarian entree, although Eggplant Tofu isn't my favorite, I like it when you think of me.
No Panda, I have a very specific example of being treated badly at one of your locations as a result of what I ordered. See I walked into the Panda on Mangrove here in gorgeous Chico yesterday with the plan of ordering my usual, sitting down and having a nice lunch, you know not at my desk in the office for once, but out and about with other people! Shocking, I know. I go to the counter and I wait (and wait and wait, the lady in front of me was ordering the whole store) and order my side of rice and my side of mixed vegetables. I order this, in this manner because this Panda location didn't even have the Eggplant Tofu I don't even like that much.
Now I've come to expect at this time for one of two things to happen, either whoever dishes out my food will argue with me that I am ordering a Panda Bowl, what do I want for my entree? And when I explain I don't want meat, I want the small order of rice and the small order of vegetables, they will go ahead and charge me for the Panda Bowl. Or whoever is working will GET IT and dish it out on a plate and charge me exactly what the menu says a side of this and a side of that will cost. The latter was always my experience with the stellar Panda Express back in San Luis Obispo, who were the helpful people who told me that ordering a Panda Bowl without an entree is a total rip off.
But yesterday? Oh no yesterday I couldn't even get ripped off for a Panda Bowl. Yesterday when I placed my order, the girl behind the counter pulled out two to go boxes (the little foldy take out kind) and when I told her, that I would rather have a plate or even a bowl because I had planned to eat in, I got this snotty face made at me and was told since I had ONLY ordered these menu items this was the way they were packaged and that I COULD NOT have a plate/bowl/styrofoam box which would enable me to eat inside the restaurant. And I might have taken that and just shrugged it off, except that I watched this same girl make SEVERAL side PLATES of MEAT for the lady in front of me. This woman also got sampled a taste of EVERYTHING on the buffet and was generally treated much better than I was.
Before anyone points out that I was ordering "cheap," I wasn't. I was ordering what was on the menu that I was able to eat. At the end of the line, I still forked out close to six bucks to be treated badly and basically discriminated against because I wasn't ordering any meat products. I mean what other reason could there be, if the other woman also ordering sides was able to get a plate or two out of the girls behind the counter.
On top of all that I had to wait over 10 minutes for my vegetables that I wasn't going to be able to eat in the restaurant. And the Dr Pepper was out of order. Which are petty gripes in comparison with basically being told that what I was ordering wasn't worth giving me a plate and a place to sit. And this can't be company policy or even Chico policy because I've gone to the other Panda in town and they gave me a plate. Sure they charged me for the Panda Bowl, but they at least treated me with respect.
In short, I will NEVER step foot in the Mangrove location of Panda Express again and it might be a very long time before I patronize the other one in town as well.
*edited to add* Oh good an auto response:
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Panda Restaurant Group, Inc.
P.O. Box 1159
Rosemead, CA 91770