Hardcore Fans Camped Out for Filipino Icon Jollibee’s Manhattan Opening

The weekend’s nor’easter shower is momentarily replaced by a shower of confetti at the opening of Jollibee on 609 Eighth Ave. in Midtown Manhattan.

The first two in line got there 20 hours early for a taste of the Filipino fast food

Despite the wind and rain of Saturday’s Nor’easter, devoted Jollibee fans were lined up for hours to score the first taste of the Filipino chain’s fried chicken and peach mango pies in Manhattan.

As only the second location in NYC out of 1,300 locations worldwide — the fast food brand is akin to McDonald’s in the Philippines — people predictably crowded before the doors flung open at 8 a.m. It didn’t hurt that the Times Square outpost, at 609 Eighth Ave. between West 39th and West 40th streets, handed out free Chickenjoy — fried chicken with gravy and rice — for a year to the first 40 customers.

But beyond freebies, the store’s opening signified more to some. “Obviously there are other Jollibees in the area. But having it in the heart of Manhattan is pretty special for Filipinos who live here,” Paolo Bautista, 26, said. “It’s another way Filipino culture is expanding in the U.S.”

Paulo Bautista (left, 26) shares a makeshift plastic basket seat with Marvin Briones (right, 34) as they wait in the pouring rain for the opening of Jollibee.
Paulo Bautista (left, 26) shares a makeshift plastic basket seat with Marvin Briones (right, 34) as they wait in the pouring rain for the opening of Jollibee. The two met in line. “I work out 2 blocks away,” Briones said. “It’s nice to see a piece of my culture while walking around.”
Faye Javier (Left, 33, Coney Island, NY) and her boyfriend Justin Callan (Right (28, Coney Island, NY) hold up their #1 and #2 customer cards, as they wait in line for the opening of Jollibee
Faye Javier and her boyfriend Justin Callan hold up their #1 and #2 customer cards as they wait in line for the opening of Jollibee.

As for those first few customers, Faye Javier and and her boyfriend Justin Callan had the distinction of taking the number one and number two spots in line. Javier, 33, and Callan, 28, got into position at noon on Friday, October 26 — waiting 20 hours at the spot.

“I grew up in the Philippines, so its a nostalgia thing for me,” Javier said. “Jollibee feels like home.”

As soon as owners cut the grand opening ribbon, cheerful employees got to work serving the hungry hordes the chain’s signature dishes: fried chicken with rice and gravy, sweet spaghetti with hot dogs, hamburgers with bacon and pineapple, halo halo, and peach mango hand pies. Here’s what the opening looked like.

Jollibee
Jollibee
Mascot Jollibee cutting the ribbon with Jollibee Foods Corp. Group President, North America Jose Maria A. Miñana Jr. (left) and his VP and general manager Maribeth Dela Cruz.

Mascot Jollibee cutting the ribbon with Jollibee Foods Corp. Group President, North America Jose Maria A. Miñana Jr. (left) and his VP and general manager Maribeth Dela Cruz.

Jollibee
Customers in costume line up to order.
Jollibee
Employees rush to fill orders of the famous Chickenjoy and peach mango pie.
Jollibee
Rico Cruz
Matthew Sterner (28, Brooklyn), who was third in line, savors the aroma of a bucket of Chickenjoy — for which he waited nearly 20 hours in line. “I love all chicken, but Jollibee has the best of all that I’ve found. I had a Filipina girlfriend in high school and she introduced me to Jollibee,” he said.
Jollibee
Javier and Callan enjoy what they waited for — the fried chicken.
A tray of fried chicken at Jollibee
Employees bring out batch after batch of the famous Chickenjoy.
Standard fare at Jollibee is a two-piece chicken meal with spaghetti.
Standard fare at Jollibee is a two-piece chicken meal with spaghetti.
A female customer takes a bite of Chickenjoy.
A female customer takes a bite of Chickenjoy.
Meredith Umali, 25, Jersey City, came in costume so she could get a Jollibee Funko Pop figure.
Meredith Umali, 25, Jersey City, came in costume so she could get a Jollibee Funko Pop figure.
A Jollibee customer pours gravy on her Chickenjoy, a common Filipino use of the gravy.
Rico Cruz
A Jollibee customer pours gravy on her Chickenjoy, a common Filipino use of the gravy.
Jollibee, the mascot after which the franchise is named, hangs out at the counter.
Jollibee, the mascot after which the franchise is named, hangs out at the counter.

Source: NYC eater
Hardcore Fans Camped Out for Filipino Icon Jollibee’s Manhattan Opening