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Panda Express plans to open Lathrop store

Lathrop residents could have another fast food option if the Planning Commission gives its approval when they meet next week. 

Panda Express – the Chinese fast-food restaurant that currently operates a restaurant near Highway 99 in Manteca and another near the Stadium Center off of the Highway 120 Bypass – is proposing a 2,200 square foot restaurant on a nearly one-acre site off of Old Harlan Road just south of Lathrop Road. 

The Lathrop Planning Commission is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, January 16 at 6 p.m. inside of the council chambers at Lathrop City Hall – located at 390 Towne Centre Drive. 

Proposed on the site of an old nursery business, the eatery will include a drive-thru lane and will be accessible to vehicle traffic via Old Harlan Road and by pedestrian traffic by W. Lathrop Road. No vehicle traffic from W. Lathrop Road into the parking lot of the business, if approved, will be provided or permitted. 

As a condition of approval, the developer will include frontage improvements along both W. Lathrop and Old Harlan Roads – to include curbs and gutters and a sidewalk – and the site improvements will include paving, landscaping, and trash enclosures. There will be 40 parking spaces available – the city’s municipal code requires one parking space for every two seats in a restaurant and one space for every employee on a maximum working shift – and two of them will be dedicated handicapped parking spaces. The site itself is currently three parcels, and the project is conditioned to include a lot line adjustment and merger so that the restaurant will stand on its own legal parcel. 

The project will also include the dedication of 1,609 square feet of property along the northern portion of the project to accommodate the future widening of W. Lathrop Road. The busy thoroughfare is only two lanes wide traveling east from I-5 until just east of the proposed project site, and then becomes four lanes wide until traffic reaches to eastern side of the first railroad flyover bridge past Woodfield Estates. 

The Lathrop Manteca Fire District has already signed off on the project. Comments received from the South San Joaquin Irrigation District, the San Joaquin Council of Governments and the San Joaquin County Environmental Health Department have been received and consolidated into the list of conditions for the restaurant. 

The Lathrop Planning Commission meets on the third Wednesday of every month inside of the council chambers at Lathrop City Hall – located at 390 Towne Centre Drive – at 6 p.m. For additional information, or to obtain a copy of the planning commission’s agenda, visit the City of Lathrop’s website at 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.