Jollibee's Expansion in North America: How is the Philippine Fast-Food Chain Doing in the US?

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, however, as its name reflects, is the fast food chain Jollibee. Technomic* has consistently cited Jollibee among its 500 best restaurants in the United States. The chain 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, but that's about to change. 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. Once they are filled, the plan is to expand beyond those areas, and Dela Cruz believes there is demand for such a movement.

The executive says that there is a growing interest and acceptance of flavors by international brands that arrive with new flavors and varied menus. Maribeth Dela Cruz, President of Jollibee North America, emphasizes 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, especially for the raw materials that make up its best-selling items. In terms of labor, the 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 the training and development opportunities it offers says Dela Cruz. And then once the workers are in it's a matter of making sure they stay engaged. Dela Cruz has found that labor shortages affecting other industries have affected Jollibee too. For example some restaurants are ready to open but you have to wait a long time for city inspectors.

Much of Jollibee's growth has occurred in California in recent years where a third of Filipino Americans live but the company has successfully expanded to other states since bringing the brand to Daly City California in 1998 entering Arizona Florida Hawaii Illinois Nevada New Jersey New York Texas Washington and Virginia according to a press release. It also opened its first store in Maryland this year. The Growing Population of Filipino Americans in the U. It has been instrumental in helping Jollibee to publicize its brand.

Jollibee is the market leader in the Philippines with more than 1 400 locations and strong brand recognition among Filipinos Tanmantiong said during a virtual event in June that the Philippine diaspora has given rise to a growing community serving as brand ambassadors in the U. Encouraging customers to use advance pickup takeout and self-service also helped Jollibee grow during the pandemic Last April it launched nationwide delivery with DoorDash. The company also launched a new online ordering app in January It also opened its first ghost kitchen in Chicago last year which will be among the company's new stores in North America said Maribeth Dela Cruz president of Jollibee Group North America Philippine Brands in a Q&A with Eatery Pulse The company is considering establishing joint ventures with suppliers acquiring a poultry complex or building its own plant to ensure more predictable food costs while the vote came as no surprise The inability to approve S. Redbook Magazine ranked Jollibee fourth best fast-food fried chicken in America surpassing McDonald's KFC Popeyes topped the list followed Chick-Fil-A and Hattie B's all fast food brands born in United States So it's a delightful surprise that Philippine fast-food chain has reached number four just as Jollibee continues its vast expansion across North America and Europe As Redbook says Jollibee is Philippine brand that is “about to take over United States” Redbook is now among growing number of global publications recognizing Jollibee as one of best or even best fast-food fried chicken our time There are currently about 45 Jollibee stories U.

This doesn't even include Jollibee's 200 international branches other countries In total there are around 270.

Tristan Gagliardo
Tristan Gagliardo

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

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