Panda Express opens in Rome today with a full menu and pandemic precautions: Masks are a must; 10 customers in the restaurant at a time. First meal was awesome.

Panda Express opens in Rome today with a full menu and pandemic precautions: Masks are a must; 10 customers in the restaurant at a time. First meal was awesome.

Sporting a drive-through menu with bowl, plates and bigger plates as well as favorites such as honey walnut shrimp, grilled teriyaki chicken and mushroom chicken with sides of chow mein and three types of rice, Panda Express opens at East Bend in Rome today. Hometown photo.
You’ll find plenty of signage as you enter Panda Express, including expanded pandemic precautions to keep customers and employees safe. Hometown photo.
No mask? You’re out of luck. Hometown photo.
Panda Express as you enter off Turner McCall just over the railroad bridge. Hometown photo.


Now this is going to be interesting — but worth it. One of Rome’s most anticipated restaurants in years — Panda Express — opens today at East Bend off Turner McCall but the expected masses need to know a few things.

The expected crush of patrons must have masks if they want to order inside. They’ll also be limited to 10 people in the restaurant at a time. Plus they’ll find red Xs on the sidewalk to assure social distancing outside. Also, expect some heavy traffic on Turner McCall coming north from Cooper Street or turning into Hicks Drive from southbound Turner McCall. There are some unique turns to make to get into the drive-through or the central parking area. (Read precautions)

Those caveats aside, it will be closer and faster than a midday or evening rush to the Calhoun store as the first of a fleet of new restaurants opens at East Bend (and East Rome). It likewise is the first business — retail or restaurant — to inaugurate Ledbetter Properties‘ latest power center, arriving as promised in October following last year’s demolition of Kmart and adjoining outparcels.

Chipotle, just next door to Panda Express, is due this week as well with Texas Roadhouse to follow in December as well as McAlister’s Deli. And they’re more on the way. Wright Ledbetter gave Hometown Headlines’ an oral walk-through of the project and the opening time table a month ago (click here).

For now, it is Panda Express day, opening at 10:30 a.m. and closing at 9:30 p.m. Those are the expected hours seven days a week but we’re waiting for final confirmation on that. We’ve not found any social media supporting the new store as yet but you can check some highlights at the main Panda Express website.

If you’re new to the franchise, we recommend:

  • The $7.80 plate with two entrees and a side. With water.
  • Honey walnut shrimp ($1.25 up charge) with string bean chicken breast and  a side of chow mein or fried rice.
  • Keep your receipt as you usually get a customer service survey. Complete it and get an extra entree the next time you visit. You’ll be back — and soon.

UPDATE: And we’ve been already. No line at 10:50 a.m. as we were headed back from the elections office. Via drive-through, we did the shrimp, mushroom chicken and chow mein with water. $9.68 with tax (included fortune cookie). Meal below; gone in 10 minutes. Delicious.


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