Chinese fast-food chain Panda Express opened its first location in Kentucky on Tuesday inside the University of Kentucky's Student Center.
More than 750 customers visited the store in its first five hours of operation.
Adding the 1,600-square-foot location cost around $344,000, according to UK Dining Services.
"We stayed within our budget," said Ray Schmidt, associate director of UK Dining Services. Schmidt said his team was proud to be the first Panda Express in the state.
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"This was a huge accomplishment for us," he said.
The opening of the store has created five new full-time positions, and Panda Express officials say the tight economic environment didn't stifle their investment.
"For every crisis, there is opportunity," said Regional Director Mavis Orr. "It depends on if you want to focus on the crisis piece or the opportunity."
Orr said the chain, which has more than 1,300 locations in 38 states, is "actively looking" to expand and add more restaurants in Lexington, Louisville and possibly Bowling Green.