This is not a drill — Filipino fast food chain Jollibee will have 100 new stores in Canada in the next five years.
The announcement was made by none other than Jollibee’s chief executive officer Ernesto Tanmantiong in an interview with Canadian television show CityNews. The interview, conducted by reporter Richard Southern, was broadcast earlier this week.
CityNews trooped to the Greater Toronto Area (or as Canadians call it, GTA), where Jollibee opened a store on April 1. The company also has two stores in Winnipeg.
The news footage shows that while it’s been two months since the store has opened, there’s still a queue of people outside the restaurant, waiting for their turn to munch on Jollibee’s treats.
Said Tanmantiong of the planned expansion: “It is [an aggressive expansion] because of the warm support of the people of Canada.”
The Jollibee story wouldn’t have been complete if Southern didn’t get the chance to try the food that the restaurant is known for. He munched on Jollibee spaghetti, which he described as “very good.”
Southern also got to try palabok, a rice noodle dish with seafood sauce topped with chicharron (pork rinds). After tasting it, he said something that would make any Pinoy swell with pride: “Right away, I’m tasting a lot of garlic, then I’m tasting the shrimp. It’s very good. I like this one.”
Jollibee, which opened its first restaurant in the 1970s in Quezon City, has enjoyed mainstream popularity in recent years, as more Filipinos migrate and work outside the Philippines.
Tanmantiong also credits the late Anthony Bourdain — who was a fan of Jollibee spaghetti — for the Bee’s success.
Said Tanmantiong: “He loved Filipinos, and Filipinos loved him. All in the Philippines are very sad about the passing of the late Anthony Bourdain.”
Details about the expansion are scanty at this point, but the report says Jollibee is looking for franchisees to open the new stores.
Other Jollibee openings have been met with much fanfare, similar to the one witnessed in GTA. Long lines greeted the opening of Chicago’s first Jollibee in 2016, as reported by Eater.
Crowds also welcomed the launch of its first European branch when it opened in Milan in March this year.