Jollibee’s 28th store: Following Filipinos to the Nation’s Capital

Janette Mercado and nephew Joanel Daos join the long queue to Chicken Joy.

Janette Mercado and nephew Joanel Daos join the long queue to Chicken Joy.

By Maricar CP Hampton & Cristina DC Pastor

A week after Jollibee opened in Virginia Beach on April 7th, Alexandria resident Janette Mercado bundled her family into two vans and they made the trek to Jollibee’s 28th American restaurant.

They waited 20 minutes before being seated by the “polite and friendly” staff.

“Just wanted the young ones to experience it,” said Janette, an employee of Coca Cola in Alexandria.

The family was elated to know that Chicken Joy passed her 11-year-old nephew Joanel Daos’ standards. U.S.-born Joanel has an all-American palate when it comes to fried chicken. He eats only KFC and McDonald’s. And now Jollibee.

 Palabok and Chicken Joy combo

Palabok and Chicken Joy combo

“Pumasa sa panlasa niya,” said the pleased aunt.

From regular folks, like Janette and her family, to officials led by Ambassador Jose Cuisia, Jollibee is becoming the dining destination for Filipino families in Metro D.C.

Cuisia and his wife Vicky recently came for breakfast and enjoyed the Filipino-style Corned Beef and Daing na Bangus or fried milkfish.

The biggest fast-food chain in the Philippines has been following Filipinos abroad, making sure the taste and memories of home stay with them. Jollibee operates 765 stores in the Philippines and hundreds more in various countries overseas Filipinos call home. The number does not include their Chowking, Greenwich Pizza and Red Ribbon stores. The website says Jollibee has a total of 2,581 stores worldwide.

“Not really feeling nostalgic,” said Janette, who has tried Jollibee locations in New York and Daly City.

Jollibee Foods Corporation spokesman Ryan Rodriguez said about 5,000 customers waited in line on opening day. Weekdays, they serve an average of 2,000 costumers daily waiting to get their hands on all-time favorites Tocino, Tapa, Corned Beef, Spam, and Daing na Bangus.

For those who crave something ‘western’, they have the burger steak. For lovers of sweets there’s Buko Coolers, Peach Mango Pie and Banana Langka Pie.

Myrna Gonzalez of Virginia Beach was thrilled to see Jollibee opening in her neighborhood.

“Jollibee’s is part of our growing up back home. We would go especially after church,” she said.

The first Jollibee restaurant opened in the U.S. 17 years ago. Jollibee in Virginia Beach is the third on the East Coast

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