Philippine Fast Food Chain Creates International Buzz
Updated: Mar 19
The following is an article “Philippine Fast Food Chain Creates International Buzz” by Marc Primo.
If I were to tell you that in the Philippines, a bumble bee mascot by the name of Jollibee shares the same celebrity status as its boxing icon Manny Pacquiao and recently crowned Miss Universe Catriona Gray, would you believe me?
What’s with all the buzz?
Jollibee is a Filipino multinational chain of fast food restaurants that dates back to 1978. What started out as a simple ice cream parlour three years prior by a Filipino-Chinese entrepreneur soon became a huge hit with Filipinos when he acknowledged their request for hot meals to be served as well. The rest, as they say, is history.
As of 2018, Jollibee has around 1,200 outlets outside its native Philippines, with presence in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Hong Kong, North America, Italy, and latest branch to open in the United Kingdom.
Jollibee stings Londoners with “strangely alluring” pasta
In October, Jollibee opened its London branch in posh neighborhood Earl’s Court—the fast food company’s second outlet in Europe after their Milan launch earlier this year. In both cases, the opening day and succeeding weeks saw droves of Filipinos and occasional curious locals flocking to the store, with queues literally snaking around the block. For something relatively commonplace like fast food, this is a testament to the passion Filipinos have for eating and supporting homegrown brands.
The bestsellers are fried chicken known as “Chickenjoy” that is served with a special gravy, and the other is Jolly Spaghetti. The latter is a dish that is likely to be alien to the palate of most Americans; spaghetti noodles slathered in a sweet meat sauce topped off with slices of hotdogs.
During a visit to the Philippines, the late Anthony Bourdain featured the restaurant in his CNN show “Parts Unknown” where he is seen trying out Jolly Spaghetti. After having a forkful of it, Bourdain says, “the spaghetti is deranged yet strangely alluring”.
The growth of Jollibee
According to daily newspaper BusinessWorld, Jollibee’s target for 2018 is to open 500 stores before year end, in a bid to have equal contribution in sales from local and international market segments by 2023. By the end of 2018, it is estimated that the company will have around 4,200 stores.
In the United States, Jollibee has locations in California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Illinois, Washington, and Virginia, with 150 stores expected across the U.S. by 2023.
Staying true to the company’s heritage of listening to what its customers want, Jollibee is now exploring the feasibility of adding Mexican dishes to its menu in their U.S. outlets due to a huge demand for that type of cuisine.
The company’s chief executive officer has since been quoted as saying such a move could either be through acquisition of a Mexican food chain or joint venture but for now, Jollibee will continue to expand around the world while happily eating along the way.