The biggest fast-food chain in the Philippines is expanding in the US.
Jollibee, known for its “Chickenjoy” fried chicken, sweet spaghetti, and halo-halo iced desserts, is about to open its second location in the Midwest and will soon expand into Florida and New York City.
The company is mapping out an expansion to other “key cities” soon as well “where there is a good density of Filipinos,” Jollibee North America President Jose Maria Minana told Business Insider.
Jollibee currently has 34 locations in the US, primarily located in California. Globally, Jollibee has a total of 1,090 stores. The company’s systemwide sales jumped 10.9% last year to $2.9 billion.
The chain — which is like a cross between McDonald’s and KFC with a side of spaghetti — has a cult following among Filipinos.
Thousands of people flocked to the opening of Jollibee’s first Midwest location in August and waited in lines lasting up to eight hours to get food, Minana said.
“We were really overwhelmed by the reaction,” he said. “We expected a line … but to wait in line for seven or eight hours?”
Weeks after the opening, the lines still stretched out the door and with waits lasting up to two hours, Eater Chicago reports.
On any given weekend day, the Skokie store typically attracts about 5,000 people. Minana said he expects that number to fall once Jollibee opens its second Illinois location this fall.
Minana attributes the Jollibee obsession to its menu, which is catered to the Filipino palate.
The “Chickenjoy” fried chicken is the chain’s flagship menu item.
It’s “crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside,” according to a Yelp review. “There isn’t much seasoning, but Filipinos like to dip their chicken with the gravy and eat it with rice. Hence the gravy for all chicken orders.”
The spaghetti is also a favourite item, with sweet sauce, slices of ham and sausage, and ground beef, topped with cheese.
The chain serves burgers, as well. The “Amazing Aloha” is a hamburger with bacon, lettuce, cheese, and a thick pineapple ring topped with honey mustard sauce.
There’s also a “burger steak” served with gravy, mushrooms, and rice; “fiesta noodles” featured noodles in a garlic sauce with sauteed pork, shrimp, parsley flakes, and slices of egg; and corned beef sandwiches.
Breakfast consists of beef tenders, sweet pork, corned beef, or pork sausage with rice, egg, and tomatoes.
For dessert, you can order the peach-mango pie, which has a crispy pie shell with warm fruit inside.
“The peach mango pie was fantastic, it’s basically a large egg roll with hot mango peach filing,” one Yelp reviewer wrote.
There’s also the halo-halo, which features ube ice cream (named after the sweet purple yam that’s used to make it), leche flan (a creamy custard), sweetened condensed milk and a mix of fruit and jellies under a bed of shaved iced.
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