Pei Wei closes

Tried eating lunch today at Pei Wei Asian Diner in Rancho Cucamonga (Foothill and Haven, in the Rancho Cucamonga Town Square) and found all the tables bunched together. A couple of workmen dismantling the place told me it’s closed for good.

Nooooo!

Signs on the door direct customers to P.F. Chang’s, Pei Wei’s parent chain, or to the Pei Wei opening soon in Chino Hills. Another sign suggests that if you walk a few paces to Daphne’s Greek and tell them you had intended to eat at Pei Wei, you’ll get 10 percent off. Which I did.

I liked Pei Wei, even if they did drop scallops as one of the items (leaving chicken, pork, beef, shrimp or tofu) that you could order in various presentations. The beginning of the end?

City Manager Jack Lam was quite the fan. So was Bulletin sportswriter Clay Fowler, who lives in the adjacent apartments and professed to be “devastated.”

Rather than intrude on Fowler during his grief, I asked Lam for his thoughts. He ate at Pei Wei frequently and even celebrated Chinese New Year there.

“I will miss the restaurant. It was a favorite haunt for those working at City Hall nearby. I liked several dishes but my favorite was the lemon pepper pork!” Lam said via e-mail. “Apparently the lunch crowd was good but the dinner crowd had thinned because of the economy.”

Lam also forwarded a news story about P.F. Chang’s troubles, which you can read by clicking below.

P.F. Chang’s to shutter 10 Pei Wei restaurants

by Ken Alltucker – Oct. 23, 2008 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

The slowing economy took a bite out of P.F. Chang’s bottom line and growth plans as the restaurant chain announced it would immediately close 10 slumping Pei Wei locations and scale back restaurant openings next year.

The Scottsdale-based Asian restaurant chain said Wednesday that its quarterly profits dropped more than 40 percent as fewer people dined at P.F. Chang’s China Bistro restaurants. The company took a $7.5 million charge tied to the Pei Wei closings, none of them in Arizona.

CEO Rick Federico said the company would scale back expansion plans for next year as it assesses many factors.

“In the past it has been ‘make money, build restaurants, make more money, build more restaurants,’ ” Federico said.

The chain now expects to open eight to 10 Bistro restaurants and six to 10 Pei Wei locations next year, down from the chain’s earlier plans to open up to 14 Bistros and eight to 10 Pei Wei sites.

Federico said expansion was limited by lack of quality restaurant sites, slowing retail development and lackluster residential growth.

P.F. Chang’s reported net income of $3 million, or 12 cents per share, for the third quarter ending Sept. 28, compared with net income of $5.3 million, or 20 cents per share, in the same quarter one year ago.

Fewer guests dined at the company’s Bistro restaurants, sending same-store sales down 3 percent. Same-store sales declined 2.9 percent at Pei Wei locations.

The restaurant chain revised its profit outlook this year to $1.34 to $1.40 per share, down from a previous estimate of $1.36 to $1.42.

Restaurants will close in Minneapolis; Las Vegas; Colorado; Rhode Island; Chula Vista, Calif.; Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; and Sacramento.

P.F. Chang’s shares closed Wednesday at $18.11, up 49 cents.

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  • Clay Fowler

    David, maybe “devastated” was a little dramatic but I loved that place. I’m surprised my roommates and I didn’t keep it afloat by ourselves as much as we ate there. (If it’s any indication, a couple people behind the counter actually knew me by name.) Do you know of any other Chinese places in the area as good as Pei Wei?

    [Hey, don't feel embarrassed -- I've been devastated by business closures too. Somehow we soldier on. The chain Pick Up Stix (there's one a few blocks east on Foothill from Pei Wei) is a similar concept, pretty good if not quite as good. Dragon Inn and Chou Chinese, both in Rancho, are moderately priced sit-down places and are recommended too. -- DA]

  • Doug Evans

    I live in Chino Hills, walking distance (well, jogging distance) from the new Pei Wei that’s opening up. This doesn’t sound good that one is closing right as the other is opening. Obviously, when the CH one was proposed, no one knew the economy was going to tailspin.

    Hope the new one does OK; nothing sadder than an empty building that used to be a restaurant, unless it’s an empty building that used to be a restaurant that’s walking distance from my house.

    And, actually, there are a lot of things sadder than that, but you get my point.

    [I do. -- DA]

  • Lyn Williams

    Hi David –

    Well, sign of the times when we see so many “familiar” places that are suddenly out of business and there are lease signs up. (I don’t know which outnumber which — the political signs or the “for lease” signs now — both are disconcerting to say the least.)

    Anyway, I frequent the Ralphs at Haven and Baseline — I don’t know the shopping center name — but, I was startled to see that the Chinese restaurant called Noble House near Blockbuster was shut down.

    I never went there, but, it seemed to have always been there since I have lived in Cucamonga for over 10 years. So, I was taken aback — and I thought, how many more places will suffer the same?

    There is a sign that I do miss seeing, and hope the tide will turn soon: “Now Hiring.” This certainly would be a welcome sign, and the more I would see it, the more I would feel better about our economy.

    Anyway — thank you as always.

    Lyn (one n) Williams

    [Hey, One N. I'm sorry to hear about Noble House. I ate there once or twice, the last time probably five years ago, and at least at that time it was one of the better Chinese restaurants in the area. It's tough when even decent restaurants go under. -- DA]

  • Bonnie MacKay

    I live close to the Pick Up Stix in La Verne and it was one of my favorite spots to grab a quick meal. Now it’s one of my favorite spots to get an oil change for my car. The food has become very greasy. Also the beef is stringy and tough and I sometimes can’t figure out what part of the chicken they use for their chicken dishes. Haven’t seen the manager to comment on the food and the employees just look at me like “So what?” I tried the Upland location the other night hoping it would be better. No luck. Pick Up Stix needs to regress a couple of years and go back to the decent food they once had. They will get me back as a customer.

    [Thanks for the tough love, Bonnie. -- DA]

  • Elisa (Alta Loma)

    What??!!! Pei Wei is closed??!! AGGGGG! I am hooked on their Orange Chicken! It’s so much better than their parent, PF Chang’s version, too. I hear there is one just opened in Chino Hills area … guess I will have to drive to Chino Hills if that one survives the tough times.

    I have eaten in the past at Pick Up Stix in the Terra Vista center, but it was just ok there, plus at Pei Wei they had nice atmosphere for a “glorified fast-food” place. Darn, my ladies group was planning a lunch there this Friday.

    Noble House closed also? We used to eat there several years ago and the food was very good. There are a lot of Chinese places around, but just the typical made-ahead sitting under the heat lamps kind. Does anyone know of one in the Rancho area that is good? Otherwise, I guess I’ll have to plan to drive to Chino Hills!

    [Dragon Inn (Archibald and Foothill) and Chu's Chinese (4th and Milliken) are both very good, Elisa. And I agree, Pick Up Stix isn't the same quality as Pei Wei, although I much prefer it to Panda Express and other heat-lamp places. -- DA]

  • Barney

    I just got a gift card for P.F.Chang’s or Pei Wei Asian Diner. The Chang’s is a long way off but there is a Pei Wei close by. My wife is Chinese and my expectations for good food are high.

  • Ron Prado

    Pei Wei is alive and well at The Commons at Chino Hills, the corner of Ramona and Chino Hills Parkway. Enjoy.

  • Gavin C.

    Another casualty: Chef’s Buffet on Foothill across from the Terra Vista mall.

  • John King

    Since Pei Wei closed, my wife and I visited more times to OMOKASE SUSHI right to the next door of the Pei Wei Rancho Cucamonga location.

    OMOKASE Sushi is Japanese fine cusine, but some menu items are similar to Pei Wei’s Asian dish menu including fried rice, teriyaki and noodles.

    Of course, our family had a lot of quality Asian food in OMOKASE SUSHI, Rancho Cucamonga and Fontana.

    OMOKASE SUSHI, Fontana is located at next to COSTCO, Fontana (210 Freeway between Citrus and Sierra Ave).

    You will also enjoy OMOKASE fine healthy dishes.

    [Nice of you to put in a plug for ... for ... what was that name again? -- DA]

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Petition-to-bring-Pei-Wei-back-to-Rancho-Cucamonga/168744949895905 Justin N

    What better way to ring in the Chinese New Year than to bring back Pei Wei to Rancho Cucamonga! Raise your Chopsticks with us and tell your friends!

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Petition-to-bring-Pei-Wei-back-to-Rancho-Cucamonga/168744949895905

    [That's a social movement I can get behind. -- DA]