Susie Wong thought she was going to purchase an auto repair shop in 2023. What she got instead was a Chandler restaurant known for its fresh and hearty take on American-Chinese cuisine along with a complimentary side serving of nightly entertainment.

In May, Wong took ownership of Singing Pandas Restaurant & Bar from its original owner Sherry Chen. A longtime customer of the dining spot that opened in 2016, Wong had been in negotiations to buy an automotive garage, an industry she’s worked in for years. When the process of buying the auto garage met with obstacle after obstacle and fell through, she had a conversation with Chen about the situation.

“I joked and said, ‘Then I’ll just buy a restaurant in Downtown Chandler.’ [Chen] said ‘buy mine’—and then I did,” says Wong, who grew up in a family-owned grocery store and has worked in the hospitality and call center sectors.

The transition from car care to the restaurant business hasn’t been much of a leap for Wong. “It’s about the relationships. As long as you love people, anyone can step into it,” she says.

Besides adding a website, online ordering and third-party deliveries through services such as UberEats, Wong, a Chandler resident, hasn’t changed much at the restaurant since becoming the proprietor.

“The restaurant is successful because the concept is so unique, the food is good, and the customer service is amazing. The recipes are all the same and so are the cooks,” she says of maintaining Singing Pandas’ winning formula.

Singing Pandas’ extensive lunch and dinner menu remains intact with familiar items influenced by American, Chinese and spicy ingredients and flavors including sweet and sour chicken, and more authentic Cantonese items such as ma po tofu made with fresh soft tofu, minced pork and green onions sautéed in a spicy brown sauce.

“We appeal to Americans, Asians and have something on the menu for everyone,” says Wong, who’s added cocktails to the existing spirits and beverage options. Standouts include the Susie Wong, a mandarin orange martini; and The Fortune Cookie, made with vanilla vodka, Bailey’s Irish cream and amaretto. The restaurant also has its own signature craft beer, Panda Light, produced by locally-owned Huss Brewing Company.

And, of course, there’s the free nightly entertainment that’s been a staple at Singing Pandas since its inception. On Talent Tuesday, Wong books a rotating list of singing talent—some even discovered in the audience. On Wednesdays, diners can eat while listening to acoustic guitar performances. On Thursdays and Sundays, customers are treated to a lounge-style experience. Wong’s husband, Mark Love, also gets in on the act and occasionally takes the stage impersonating Louis Armstrong.

The new weekend lineup features more Vegas-style dinner shows celebrating iconic sounds on Friday and Saturday evenings, according to Wong. “You’ll hear everything from Dean Martin and Liza Minnelli to Frank Sinatra and Adele. The shows appeal to all ages, with recognizable songs from the ’50s to the 2000s.”

Wong highly recommends reservations for the weekend performances in the showroom, which are seated at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Plus, large groups can reserve spots for lunch meetings.

“Walk-ins are welcome too,” she says. “Who knows? Maybe you’ll get lucky.”

Map: 757 E Chandler Blvd, Chandler AZ 85225 or (480) 777-5050