Leeann Chin

Leeann Chin (also styled Lee Ann Chin in promotional materials) is a Chinese-American fast food restaurant chain in Minnesota, operating approximately 40 outlets. Although the establishment's menu is dedicated almost entirely to chicken entrees and fried appetizers, it does offer at least one beef entree and a vegetarian dish. A shrimp entree is available at a premium. There is a great deal of variety in the sauces and vegetables used to prepare dishes in Mongolian, Hunan, and Szechuan styles. The food ranges from mild to spicy, and there are a variety of salads, bottled and fountain beverages, and frozen yogurt treats available for purchase.

Leeann Chin markets itself as an alternative both to traditional Chinese restaurants and fast food competitors, claiming a position of superior nutritional value in their food. While this is debatable, the atmosphere of the restaurants attempts to capture the emerging fast casual trend in the fast food industry, placing it in direct competition with Chipotle, Noodles and Company, Baja Sol, Culver's, Panera Bread, and other competitors.

Leeann Chin, the restaurant chain's founder, originally worked as a seamstress. She began hosting casual dinner parties as a show of appreciation for customers and word quickly spread about her tasty, innovative dishes. She started to receive requests to cater parties and eventually began teaching cooking classes through Edina, Minnesota's community education program. Her success continued to grow, and she opened her first Leeann Chin location in Minnetonka, Minnesota in 1980. Originally conceived as sit-down eateries, her restaurants became so popular that the format was changed to buffet style eating. Leann Chin had counters in Dayton's department stores, and later, Byerly's and Lund's grocery stores.

Leeann Chin founder and namesake Leeann Chin died on March 10, 2010 in Seattle, WA after a long illness, a company spokeswoman confirmed.

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