LSU Student Union serves as the resource for students who find themselves in need of an efficient, accessible and inexpensive bite before or after a late night study session or in between classes. But one popular dining location— Panda Express — doesn’t exactly provide convenient hours to meet these needs.
Panda Express in the Student Union is only open on weekdays from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., while off-campus locations are open seven days a week from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Marketing sophomore Matthew Whelan frequents the Student Union after class and knows the inconvenience and unhappiness associated with Panda Express’ hours.
“It’s very disappointing especially when you get out of class and all you want is some hot chow mein with honey walnut shrimp,” Whelan said. “I always forget that they close so early. I walk over expecting some Panda Express, and as I turn the corner, my heart drops when I see their lights off.”
LSU Dining considers many factors when determining hours of operation for its locations, according to an email from Margot Carroll, the assistant vice president of Auxiliary Services.
“The most important factor is good customer service,” Carroll said.
LSU Dining uses years’ worth of velocity reports and surveys to show when the Student Union is busiest. This data can then be used to determine how many restaurants need to be open at certain times and for how long.
Multiple concepts are only open during the busiest times in order to keep prices down and avoid food waste during slower times. The concepts open during these slower periods are decided based on which menus have the most options and are the most popular, Carroll said.
Panda Express has shorter hours than many of the other chains because it prioritizes freshness and authenticity. It is required to have a certain number of customers per time period because of the manner in which its food is prepared.
Though LSU Dining believes these are the best hours for students, many, particularly freshmen who live on campus and often don’t have cars, consider the hours to be inconsiderate.
Mass communication freshman Diana Rodriguez said she likes Panda Express because it has different options but thinks it’s inconvenient because she has class when it is open.
“All my classes are located in different places at different times,” Rodriguez said. “The Union is a centralized option for me to eat out.”
Rodriguez, who is greatly influenced by her Hispanic family, said these hours have an impact on her cultural and personal practices.
“I grew up in a culture where the norm is late lunches and later dinners, which these hours don’t respect,” Rodriguez said.
Hours of the Union also change to accommodate campus events, large visiting groups and holidays. This includes home football games.
Biological sciences freshman Cecile Theard said Panda Express is her favorite place to eat before game days.
“It allows me to have a variety of food groups before a long day in the sun,” Theard said. “I wish it was open more often.”
At this time, it is unclear whether the Panda Express’s business hours will be extended in the future.