Pei Wei restaurant in St. Pete to permanently close

A sign on the Pei Wei restaurant at 1345 Fourth Street N in St. Petersburg says the store will close on Monday. (Graham Brink  | Times)
A sign on the Pei Wei restaurant at 1345 Fourth Street N in St. Petersburg says the store will close on Monday. (Graham Brink | Times)
Published August 24 2018
Updated August 24 2018

The Pei Wei restaurant at 1345 Fourth Street N in St. Petersburg is closing. A sign on the door says Monday will be the store’s last day.

The Asian-style fast casual restaurant opened in that location in March 2016. It was the second one in Pinellas County.

"After close evaluation of the market, we’ve made the difficult decision to close (that) location," Pei Wei said in a statement Friday afternoon. "We thank our loyal guests for their support, and we invite them to visit our nearby restaurant at 1402 66th St. in the future."

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Earlier this month, industry trade publication QSR published a story about how Pei Wei, which has about 200 locations, was gearing up to take on Panda Express, which has 10 times that many sites.

Pei Wei, founded in Scottsdale, Ariz., in 2000 and headquartered in Irving, Texas, recently released a marketing campaign that pits its mascot tiger against a panda. The aggressive campaign pitches Pei Wei’s fresh offerings against Panda Express’ frozen chicken.

"We’re going to continue to push on Panda. They’re the market leader," Brandon Solano, Pei Wei’s chief marketing officer told QSR. "Consumers are very familiar with them, but we want consumers to have a fresher, better option."

The Pei Wei on Fourth Street had heavy competition from many nearby fast-casual restaurants, including Chipotle, Panera, Tijuana Flats, Little Greek and new arrival Zoës Kitchen.

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