The owner of the China Dragon 1 restaurant in northwest suburban Algonquin has opened a second location inside the space at 7600 Madison St., a space last occupied by Panda Café Chinese restaurant and bar.
Called China Dragon 2, the restaurant had a soft opening on June 16. Owner Felix Zheng said he wanted to have something bigger than China Dragon 1, and, when the space became available, he decided to take advantage of the opportunity.
China Dragon 2 is currently carryout-only, because the interior renovations aren’t quite finished, but the plan is to have a full-fledged sit-down restaurant with a liquor license. Zheng expects to have a grand opening later this summer.
Panda Café closed sometime in late April-early May. On March 17, the village and the restaurant owner Weijun “John” Zhou reached a settlement after it was cited for staying open and serving liquor after hours, and for having a DJ at an event without obtaining a village entertainment license. A few weeks later, Zhou was seen taking down the signs and pictures showing food, which decorated the building’s exterior walls since it opened in 2019.
Zheng said he decided to expand because China Dragon 1 was popular enough to get crowded. He thought the Madison/Desplaines space was a good location in “ a good neighborhood.”
“I don’t know why [Panda Café] closed,” Zheng said. “There’s a lot of a room, and it’s a good location.”
Ever since the 24-hour Venture Restaurant closed many years back, the space has had trouble keeping tenants for longer than a few years. Some of the notable occupants over the years included Ambrosia Café, Bistro Marbuzet, Madison Street Grill and Rocco’s. Panda Café ended up being one of the longer-lasting tenants.
China Dragon 2 menu features a wide variety of Chinese and Thai dishes, as well as smoothies. The restaurant offers $9.99 lunch specials, and it is offering a 20% discount on all orders for the next month. Zheng said he plans to add sushi dishes to the menu further down the line.
Panda Café’s liquor license didn’t transfer to the new tenant. China Dragon 1 has a liquor license, and Zheng said that he applied for a liquor license for China Dragon 2 as well.
When the Review visited the restaurant on opening day around 6 p.m., workers were still finishing up the interiors, but Zheng was taking a walk-in order as the reporter came in and took a few more orders over the phone. Another customer walked in as the Review was leaving.
“We want people to know that we’re here, [that] the restaurant is open,” Zheng said. “People can come in to have some Chinese food and some sushi.”