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.”
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.