HOUSTON, Texas – What started in 1975 as an ice cream parlor in the Philippines, has became one of the most successful Filipino fast food chains worldwide.
There are now at least 791 Jollibee stores in Philippines and over 90 stores in eight countries. In the US, stretching from the West Coast to the East and now in Houston, it has become a tourist destination for Filipinos.
"It’s a perfect opportunity to open a store here in Houston because it brings everybody together, Jollibee is able to bring back that nostalgia of what Jollibee is all about back home,” said Jollibee Foods Corporation USA vice president Maribeth Dela Cruz.
The first Jolibee in the southern US broke records in opening sales. Last week more than 5,000 Filipinos came to its opening day in Houston, all excited to get a taste of their favorites like Chicken Joy, Jolly Spaghetti, and Yum burgers. This was a thousand more than Jollibee Hawaii’s opening day record.
"I’ve been here 1 hour, it’s worth it. Oh yeah! Masarap kasi ang Jollibee!” said Alaric Evan Arro.
"Init, pawis but it's all worth it because Jollibee is the best for us," said Cherry Ann Nicolas.
A week after its opening day, the hype hasn't fizzled out. Curious patrons, including those who gave up after waiting in long lines last week, had to come back.
“Last week, I camped out here since 6 o'clock but the line was too long, so me and my mom went back home. So I told her after church, 'Let’s go back to Jollibee because I wanna taste and want their burgers,” said Lance Sy Changco.
Surrounded by kababayans, Filipinos here said eating at Jollibee in Houston is like being transported back home, with great food and great company.
Jollibee Philippines President Jose Miñana said this is just a beginning in the south, with another Filipino bakery possibly coming to Houston, right next to Jollibee.
"To all those who stay here in Texas we have something even more really exciting that we from Jollibee Foods Corporation group can bring over here. So abangan niyo yan,” he said.