Jollibee: Bringing Joy to the United States

With 70 stores in North America, 1500 stores worldwide and many more to come, Jollibee Foods Corporation is proud to be one of the largest and fastest growing Asian restaurant companies in the world. The flagship brand, Jollibee, as its name reflects, is the fast food chain that has been cited by Technomic* among its 500 best restaurants in the United States. Jollibee has more than 1,400 locations around the world, with a presence in Europe, the Middle East, East Asia, Southeast Asia and North America. It was founded in 1978 in the Philippines, but did not arrive in the United States until 1998 in Daly City, California.

Of all those stores, only 66 are based in the U. S. UU. And the rest of North America.

However, Jollibee plans to reach 300 locations in North America by 2024, well beyond the 12 Canadian states and four provinces in which it currently resides. This year alone, the brand will open 28 locations, including downtown Chicago, downtown Times Square and the first store in downtown Vancouver. Maribeth Dela Cruz, President of Jollibee North America, believes that authenticity will be critical as the chain expands. To build an international brand in the U. UU., Jollibee's goal is to offer a unique and differentiated product to differentiate itself from US players.

Jollibee is renowned for its fried chicken, plus a burger made with an exclusive dressing and spaghetti topped with Jollibee's sweet sauce and thick slices of ham, minced meat and hot dogs. The menu also showcases the brand's Philippine roots, such as the Fiesta de Palabok, which Jollibee describes as a “traditional dish of Filipino noodles topped with garlic sauce, crushed pork rind, shrimp and egg”.In addition to authenticity, Dela Cruz highlights Jollibee's ability to “serve joy in every way we can” to consumers. The company calls it FSC or food, service and cleaning standards. Jollibee plans to build stores with double drive-thrus, more outdoor seating, curbside parking spaces and designated mobile ordering areas within restaurants. Operationally, Jollibee has faced the same headwinds as most of the industry.

Dela Cruz points out that rising commodity costs, particularly with chicken, has been a challenge but adds that Jollibee has forged strong relationships with suppliers for raw materials that make up its best-selling items. In terms of labor, US president says that turnover has remained relatively low which she attributes to a culture that focuses on a spirit of family and fun. For newer stores, the application rate has been slower but that just means that Jollibee must remain competitive with salary rates and training and development opportunities it offers says Dela Cruz. And then once workers are in it's a matter of making sure they stay engaged. The pandemic has posed challenges in the restaurant industry but Jollibee has been able to persevere by focusing on off-premises channels as well as restaurants. At the start of the pandemic, the brand encouraged its customers to experience the joy of Jollibee from the comfort and safety of their own homes through advance pickup takeout and self-service. The new location marks the return of the brand to Mira Mesa and a concerted effort to build its network of stores in San Diego area which is home to a sizable Filipino community.

More restaurant options are reopening and are available but executive says Jollibee can counter that with new customers it won during pandemic when 95 percent of its stores remained open. Dela Cruz says customers have asked Jollibee to reopen indoor dining and stores have complied but executive acknowledges self-service will remain priority going forward. Already this year Jollibee opened 12 stores in North America safely and successfully amid pandemic. Founded in Philippines in 1978 Jollibee first arrived in United States in 1998 with store in Daly City California. Today Jollibee will open its 21st store in California located at 8436 Mira Mesa Boulevard in San Diego.

Tristan Gagliardo
Tristan Gagliardo

Proud social media ninja. Bacon expert. Unapologetic gamer. Proud zombie nerd. Freelance pop culture scholar.

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