News / Edmonton

'Why not right here in Edmonton?' Filipino chain sets sights on city

The Winnipeg locations experienced huge success

Roy Manongsong was craving a taste of home so bad he drove all the way to Seattle, Wash. over the holidays to get an Aloha burger at Jollibee, a fast food chain with cult status in the Philippines.

“It’s like you’re missing something for a very long time, and then you have it. For me, it tasted the same,” he said.

So it’s safe to say Manongsong is looking forward to Jollibee opening in Edmonton. The chain, known for fried chicken, spaghetti and burgers, has recently unveiled plans to expand their Canadian presence, including an Edmonton location, although they could not confirm an opening date.

“Edmonton is one of the key areas in Canada that we are looking to expand to,” said Dianne Yorro, a spokesperson for Jollibee.

“However, there is no definite opening date for now,” she added. “We want to make sure that we get the right location with the right size that will allow us to give the best possible experience to customers who are eagerly anticipating our opening in the area.”

The chain currently has two locations in Winnipeg, with plans to also open two in the Greater Toronto Area.

“What happened in Winnipeg is there was lineups past midnight and people were given numbers and had to come back,” Manongsong said of the opening at the end of 2016. “My friend waited until 10 a.m. (the next day) and still hadn’t got a call back.”

With a large and growing Filipino population, it’s easy to understand why the chain set sights on Edmonton, Manongsong said.

“It’s about time for them to open and expand in Edmonton because there’s a really good market here they can capture, he said.

Statistics Canada numbers show that Tagalog (the national language of the Philippines) as a first language increased in Alberta by 68.3 per cent from 2011 to 2016.

Between 2010 and 2015, the Philippines was the main source country for migrants to Alberta.

Fredrick Arogante, an Edmontonian who used to work at a Jollibee in the Philippines, said the chain holds a special place in the hearts of many Filipinos because it caters to their tastes with menu items like its sweet spaghetti.

“Jollibee is like a home for people from the Philippines, especially for the children. And the mascot is the friendliest bee ever,” he said.

“If we have one in Edmonton that it’s going to be fun,” he added. “We are jealous here in Alberta because it opened in Winnipeg . But why not right here in Edmonton?”

When the store does open here, Manongsong expects it will be embraced with open arms.

“It’s going to be crazy jam packed on the opening, I can tell you that.”

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