Pandas aren’t known for their speed.

The slow and ponderous gait of the black-and-white “bear cat” seems in line with the speed of the development of the first Panda Express Gourmet Chinese Cuisine chain restaurant in the Med City.

In early 2018, the California-based Panda Express filed paperwork with the City of Rochester to build a 2,200-square-foot restaurant in the parking lot at South Broadway and 25th Street SE.

That puts the proposed restaurant next to the Sterling State Bank branch along South Broadway and in front of the Kohl’s department store in the Broadway Commons commercial area.

However, that site remains untouched more than a year later. So is the largest Asian fast food chain in the U.S. still cooking up a location in Rochester?

The developers are telling the city planning staff that it is still in the pipeline.

Planner Kristi Gross is working with the Panda team and she has been told that they are working out some behind-the-scenes details on the site.

To be clear, the city has cleared the permits filed so far. So Rochester is not holding up the project.

Biz buzz

While tracking the status of the Panda Express restaurant, I was reminded that many popular food chains have eyed the Med City very closely.

And despite assurances of a location “coming soon,” Rochester remains without them.

I’m going to dip into my old contacts list to check on the status of possible Med City plans by Sonic Drive-In, Hardee’s, Smashburger, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews and the ever-elusive White Castle.

With the opening of so many popular original restaurants in Rochester recently, fast food chain eateries overall seem to be on the Med City’s back burner these days.

Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in Heard on the Street. Send tips to or via Twitter to @whereskiger. You can call him at 285-7798.

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