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Panda group's Cherngs buy into small sandwich chain

Panda Express founders and principals Peggy and Andrew Cherng have invested in another growth vehicle, this time the 12-unit Urbane Cafe fast-casual chain.

The size and other terms of the investment were not disclosed.

The move is the latest diversification for the Cherngs, who also have put money into the fast-casual chains Just Salad and Pieology.

Their core business remains privately held Panda Restaurant Group, whose holdings include 1,900 Asian restaurants within the United States. Its brands include Panda Express, Panda Inn and Hibachi-San.

Urbane Cafe specializes in sandwiches made with focaccia and hand-carved meats, as well as salads. The announcement of the deal specified that founder and CEO Tom Holt will retain responsibilities for the chain, whose stores are all in California.

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