Jollibee, ‘McDonald’s Of The Philippines’ Opens Its Doors In Manhattan, Are They Ready For The ‘Chicken Joy’?

For the massive Filipino community in Manhattan, Jollibee opening a branch might be the closest thing to home.

According to the Commercial Observer, Jollibee, dubbed as the McDonald’s of the Philippines, is opening its first outpost in Manhattan. The Filipino-owned Jollibee Food Corporation has decided to open this fall in the 2,723 sq. ft. ground floor at the Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation’s 609 Eight Avenue. The massive leasing deal has an asking rent of $300 per square foot.

“The proximity to the Port Authority along with the tremendous pedestrian count makes this Eighth Avenue corridor an ideal location for fast-casual brands. Both Jollibee and Arby’s choosing to locate their Manhattan flagship stores here further solidifies the strength of this sub-market,” Daniel Iwanicki, a senior vice president of leasing and development at Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, said in prepared remarks.

Though this is the first branch in Manhattan, this is not the only Jollibee station in the U.S. Jollibee has branches in Woodside, Queens, and Jersey City as well.

“Jollibee is primed for success at 609 Eighth Avenue given its optimum location near the bus terminal and the neighborhood’s heavy foot traffic,” said NGKF Retail’s Harrison Abramowitz, who represented the landlord along with colleague Jason Pruger, in a direct deal. “There is a large Filipino population in New Jersey, many of whom commute through Port Authority every day. This will be a tremendous help in introducing the chain to Manhattan.”

Jollibee is not a high-end restaurant. Jollibee is a fast-food brand that has captured the hearts of the Filipinos. The Chicken Joy, Jollibee’s specialty, is sold at $2.99 for one piece, according to New York Times.

The Times noted that the Jollibee Spaghetti dish is sweet and is “frighteningly addictive.” Jollibee also offers the Palabok Fiesta which was called as the “only recognizable Asian dish.”

Buzzfeed has featured Jollibee multiple times. They even did a taste test review for Jollibee’s top meals including the Chicken Joy. Some Americans found the taste weird, but many found the food interesting.

Jollibee’s mascot, the red, friendly-looking bee, is said to be one of the top go-to staples of Filipinos who are in the U.S. And with its new branch in Manhattan, they would just reach out to the thousands of Filipinos living there.

In the Philippines, Jollibee is more popular than McDonald’s. Aside from its affordable price, the sweet combos of the food and drinks appeal to the majority of Filipinos.

Jollibee has also made its mark to the Filipino families because they offer to host children’s birthday parties. Jollibee mascots can actually be seen dancing in streets and in parties.

Though in tight competition with McDonald’s, Jollibee has always been on top. They even branched out to different partnerships like the top pastry shop Red Ribbon.

Jollibee has always been compared to McDonald’s, but it is not actually the burgers that make them stand out but the top choices like their Chicken Joy, spaghetti, and Peach Mango Pie.

Jollibee started out 38 years ago in 1975 when Tony Tan Caktiong and his family opened up a Magnolia Ice Cream parlor in Quezon City, Philippines. The family parlor expanded their offerings from ice cream to hot dogs since there was a larger market for that.

Jollibee’s affordability and unique taste particular to the Philippine geographic made it a success. Their rapid growth has put them to more acquisitions like Greenwich Pizza and Mang Inasal. They also went on to being the sole franchisee of Burger King in the Philippines.

This year, Jollibee has announced a joint venture with Dunkin Donuts to establish 1,400 Dunkin Donuts branches in China for the next 20 years.

[Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]