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华裔夫妇打造美国中式快餐王国

Dinah Eng 2013年02月07日

他生在扬州,抗战期间逃往台湾。她生在缅甸,后来搬到香港。他们在美国相识。他父亲是个厨子,却从来没有自己的餐厅。他不想那样。40年前,他借钱开了第一家餐厅。她全力协助。如今,老两口打理的熊猫餐饮已经拥有1500家连锁店,足迹遍及全美,总营收超10亿。梦想终将照进现实。

程正昌、蒋佩琪夫妇坐在位于加利福尼亚罗斯米德市的熊猫餐饮集团总部内。

    靠着储蓄金和美国联邦小企业署的贷款凑起来的6万美元以及自家亲戚们的免费劳动,现年65岁的程正昌和62岁的蒋佩琪这对夫妇在1973年开办了他们自己的第一家中餐厅。如今,熊猫餐饮集团(Panda Restaurant Group)已经成为美国亚洲休闲快餐业的领军企业,2012年的营收超过17亿美元。这家总部位于加利福尼亚罗斯米德市的集团公司旗下管理着1,500多家熊猫快餐厅(Panda Express)、聚丰园餐厅(Panda Inn)和Hibachi-San日本料理餐厅,遍布全美42个州以及墨西哥首都墨西哥城。今年是熊猫餐饮集团成立40周年。这对夫妻档CEO分享了他们的创业故事:

    程正昌:二战开始之后的第二年,我出生在中国的扬州。5岁时,我们举家逃往台湾,8年之后,又移居日本。

    蒋佩琪:我出生在缅甸,后来随着全家定居香港并在那里长大。之后到美国读大学,在堪萨斯州鲍德温的贝克大学(Baker University)学习时遇到了程正昌。

    程:我们后来又一起去了密苏里大学(the University of Missouri),我在那儿攻读应用数学硕士。佩琪比我多上了几年,拿到了电子工程学博士学位。当时我在纽约上班,每个节假日去餐厅吃饭都要排队等座。我父亲本身就是厨师但却一直未能拥有自己的餐厅。我不想那样,从内心来说,我知道我想要拥有自己的事业。

    蒋:我倒是从未想过做生意,我所受到训练是要投身科学事业。

    程:我有个表兄正好在好莱坞租了个叫Ting Ho的餐厅,但他又不会讲英语,所以就来找我帮忙。这对我来说简直是个天上掉馅饼的好事儿。1972年,我搬到了加州。在他的餐厅,我每周工作7天,月薪800美元。过了几个月,我们俩在工作上出现了一些分歧。当时帕萨迪纳市正好有一间餐厅要出租,于是我父亲和我就从我那位表兄那儿借了些钱,又向联邦小企业署借了一笔贷款,就这么一共凑了6万美元把那间餐厅盘了下来。1973年6月8号,聚丰园餐厅正式开张。我们全家,包括我父母、一个哥哥和一个妹妹,全都在餐厅里免费做事。当时,我们身上所剩无几,全家人就挤在圣盖博市的一间两居室的公寓里。佩琪常常来看我们。我们在1975年结婚。

    蒋:我们第三个孩子出生前,我一直在麦道公司(McDonnell Douglas)和3M公司的工程部门工作。

    程:我父亲1981年去世,我很自然地担起了餐厅管理者的责任。我是个非常有干劲的人,喜欢成就感。1982年,我们在格兰代尔市开出了第二家聚丰园餐厅。

    蒋:我就是在那时加入了家族生意。

    程:我通过人脉结识了唐纳修家族。特里•唐纳修是加州大学洛杉矶分校(UCLA)橄榄球队的总教练,而他的弟弟则是幽谷拱廊商场(the Glendale Galleria)的开发商。他们邀请我在商场里开一家熊猫快餐厅。我记得那是1983年10月的事儿,而这第一家熊猫快餐厅经营得不错。因此,我又开出了更多的餐厅。1985年那一年,熊猫快餐厅的门店数就从5家增长到了9家。

    蒋:当时的机会很好。前十年,我们都是在商场里开店。

    Andrew and Peggy Cherng, now 65 and 62, respectively, opened their first Chinese restaurant in 1973 with $60,000 from savings and a Small Business Administration loan, plus relatives who worked for free. Today Panda Restaurant Group is the nation's leader in Asian fast-casual eateries, exceeding $1.7 billion in revenue in 2012. Their Rosemead, Calif., company now manages a total of 1,500 Panda Express, Panda Inn, and Hibachi-San restaurants in 42 states and Mexico City, and it is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The co-CEOs' story:

    Andrew Cherng: I was born in Yangzhou, China, two years after World War II started. I was 5 when my family escaped to Taiwan. Eight years later, we moved to Japan.

    Peggy Cherng: I was born in Burma, and my family went to Hong Kong, where I grew up. I came to the United States for college and met Andrew at Baker University in Baldwin, Kans.

    Andrew: We went on to the University of Missouri, where I got a master's degree in applied mathematics. Peggy stayed a couple of years longer to get her Ph.D. in electrical engineering. Every holiday I had, I worked in New York, waiting tables in a restaurant. My father was a chef but hadn't owned his own business. I didn't like that. In my heart of hearts, I knew I wanted to be in business.

    Peggy: I never thought about going into business. I was trained to be in the sciences.

    Andrew: It's just dumb luck that my cousin leased a restaurant in Hollywood called Ting Ho. He didn't speak English and turned to me for help. So in 1972 I moved to California and worked seven days a week in the restaurant, getting paid $800 a month. After a few months, we had some work disagreements and I found a restaurant in Pasadena to take over. My dad and I borrowed some money from that same cousin and got an SBA loan, scraping together $60,000. We opened Panda Inn on June 8, 1973. The whole family -- my parents, a brother and sister -- all worked at the restaurant for free. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment in San Gabriel and didn't have any money. Peggy would come to visit, and we got married in 1975.

    Peggy: I worked in engineering for McDonnell Douglas and Comtal/3M until our third child was born.

    Andrew: My dad passed away in 1981. I was very comfortable taking charge. I'm a driven person and I like to accomplish things. In 1982 we opened another Panda Inn in Glendale.

    Peggy: That's when I joined the family business.

    Andrew: Through my connections, I met the Donahue family. Terry Donahue was the head football coach for UCLA, and his brother Dan was the developer for the Glendale Galleria. They invited me to open a Panda Express in the mall. It was October 1983, and the first Panda Express worked out okay. So I opened more restaurants. In 1985 we went from five to nine stores in one year.

    Peggy: It was opportunity driven. In the first 10 years, we were mall-based stores.

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