Largest Chinese food chain opening its first restaurant in Beaufort County. Here’s where

Orange chicken, wok-seared shrimp and veggie spring rolls are next to arrive during Beaufort’s current restaurant boom.

The next major national restaurant chain is opening a dining room in Beaufort, and this one features American Chinese food that you can grab at a drive-through or dine in.

Panda Express, the largest Asian-segment restaurant chain in the country, has signed a lease at Beaufort Station, the regional shopping center that’s under construction at Parris Island Gateway and Robert Smalls Parkway, Zack Means, a senior vice president of Divaris Real Estate Inc., said Thursday.

Panda Express’ lease signing comes on the heels of news that Surcheros Fresh Mex and Chicken Salad Chick also are planning to locate in the 200,000 square-foot Beaufort Station. The regional shopping center is expected to open next summer.

The first Panda Express opened in 1983 in Glendale, Calif., specializing in American Chinese cuisine. Its flavors, the company says on its web site, are a combination of Chinese roots with an American taste. It has 2,200 locations nationwide including 16 in South Carolina.

Panda Chinese Restaurants — a different restaurant — are located in Beaufort and Bluffton. But the Panda Express planned at Beaufort Station will be the first Panda Express in Beaufort County.

Means says about 13,000 square feet of space still needs to be leased at Beaufort Station. That includes restaurant and retail space.

The featured tenants are an Aldi Grocery store, PetSmart, TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, Five Below, Rack Room Shoes, Hobby Lobby, Ross Dress for Less, Ulta Beauty and Old Navy.

Other stores will be Mattress Firm, America’s Best Contacts and Eye Glasses, Le Nails and Parker’s Kitchen, the convenience store and gas station.

At another Beaufort shopping center, Beaufort Plaza, a Five Guys restaurant is expected to open in the next 90 days. A Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. opened at Beaufort Plaza in March.