After a pair of fast-food openings in Vancouver over the past year, Jollibee has expanded its reach in the region with the first of two Surrey restaurants.
A new King George Hub outlet opened to lineups out the door Saturday (Feb. 18), and a fourth Jollibee location in B.C. is on the way in Newton in coming months, in a new building at Strawberry Hill Shopping Centre.
The Philippines-based chain serves chicken, spaghetti and pies with a dash of nostalgia for those with roots in the Southeast Asian country.
So is the food worth all that fuss?
To learn more about the Jollibee fascination, we turned to Surrey resident Narima Dela Cruz, president and founder of Surrey Philippine Independence Day Society (SPIDS) and also president of the Filipino Canadian National Congress (FCNC).
“I guess what makes Jollibee special to any Filipino worldwide is that it gives us nostalgia — memories of our past interactions with Jollibee back in the Philippines, where we have eaten there with our loved ones, elderly parents, old friends, others,” she told the Now-Leader.
“The food is secondary — although their products really taste good.”
The new Surrey location is Jollibee’s 26th in Canada and 89th in North America, as the chain “continues its mission to become one of the world’s top-five restaurant brands,” according to a company news release.
Popular orders include Jolly Crispy Chicken with gravy, a slightly sweet spaghetti with hotdog chunks and dessert pies with peach-mango and pineapple-coconut fillings.
Dela Cruz said she was first introduced to Jollibee in the 1990s during her university days in Manila.
“For me personally, it was memories of when my son (Daryl) was a baby,” she recalled. “We had his baptismal reception at Jollibee in Makati. And then when we moved to Canada when he was two years old, and wherever our family goes for vacation anywhere in the world where there is Jollibee branch, that’s going to be our first destination — always.”
The King George Hub restaurant is smaller than most other Jollibee locations, Dela Cruz said, but it’s “perfect” for bringing the chain’s food so close to home.
Fellow Filipino Johnny Peralta concurs.
“Jollibee has dishes that are nostalgic to Filipinos,” the local musician said. “Imagine living in a country and then suddenly there’s a chance of being able to enjoy a poutine or a Frosty? Sure there’s hype surrounding Jollibee, but believe me when I say it’s merited.”
The Jollibee at King George Hub (9850 King George Blvd.) is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
According to a news release posted to newswire.ca, Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC, also known as Jollibee Group) “is one of the fastest-growing restaurant companies in the world.” It operates in 34 countries, with over 6,300 stores globally with branches in the Philippines, Canada, the U.S. and several other countries.
In Vancouver, Jollibee debuted a year ago at 833 Granville St., followed by a second B.C. location in October at 2549 Cambie St., at Broadway.