Jollibee 2nd Store in East Coast Opens

Another Jollibee store opens in East Coast now in Jersey City NJ…

While Jollibee in Texas is still in the making, one day, it will not be a dream anymore for Texans to have our own Jollibee store. hahaha plus LOL just wishing someone with entrepreneural mind in Dallas TX will eventually meet the Jollibee Franchise for TX.

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Sweet Spaghetti, And a Bit of Pride

JERSEY CITY, N.J.—A growing Filipino community here has a new community center of a sort—a chain restaurant that offers purple yam tapioca shakes and sports a bee mascot.

Jersey City’s Filipinos turned out in droves on Sunday for the opening of the East Coast’s second Jollibee, a Filipino fast-food restaurant that is revered as the island nation’s McDonald’s.

For the hundreds of Filipinos who flocked there, the debut offered a coveted chance to eat the crispy fried chicken and sweet spaghetti of home. It also stood as a sign of their community’s rising stature in Jersey City, which just swore in its first Filipino councilman last year.

“I’ve been waiting for this for months,” said Rayanne Ella, 32, a Jersey City sales manager who dined with her entire family at the opening. “It’s a point of pride.”

For years, Filipinos from New Jersey’s second-largest city have made pilgrimages to the Jollibee in Woodside, Queens. The lines there, much like at the opening here on Sunday, often stretch out the door and down the block.

“It’s very heartwarming,” said Iyoh Villamayor, a Jollibee vice president, about Sunday’s turnout. Hundreds of people drove to the nondescript strip mall in the city’s Greenville section and walked over from the nearby Our Lady of Mercy Catholic church during the day.

While better known for its Indian community, Jersey City boasts New Jersey’s largest Filipino population, with 16,200 inhabitants, according to the 2010 Census. Bergenfield and Union Township were ranked a distant second and third.

Filipinos began migrating to the waterfront city in the 1960s, settling in the Five Corners neighborhood in Journal Square and in more residential neighborhoods in the southwest section. A vibrant downtown community concentrated around Manila Avenue has dwindled in recent years.

Many of the first-generation immigrants were doctors, engineers and other professionals looking to escape the Marcos regime and fill trade-worker shortages in the U.S., said Rolando Lavarro, the city’s new councilman-at-large, whose parents immigrated to New Jersey in the 1970s.

More recent immigrants have tended to come from lower-skill trades, and the community is a mix of the working and middle class, said Mr. Lavarro, adding that concerns about crime and the draw of the suburbs have led some to leave. Census statistics show that the Filipino population rose only 2.2% between 2000 and 2010, while Indians more than doubled in the city.

Unlike members of the older generation, who looked to assimilate, newer residents are more inclined to teach their children Tagalog and to seek out Filipino pop culture, Mr. Lavarro said. Two local cinemas occasionally show Filipino movies, and Jollibee was filled with youthful dinners speaking the country’s dialect.

Jersey City “is definitely a destination. There are a lot of the trappings of home,” said Mr. Lavarro, a 42-year-old grants manager, who is the first Asian-American to sit on the city’s nine-member council.

Anticipation for the opening of Jersey City’s Jollibee grew for months, stoked by Facebook and word of mouth. The company—which owns restaurant chains worldwide and reported $3.2 billion in earnings last year—is famous for its bee mascot wearing a chef’s hat.

“I have memories of this from when I was a kid,” said Sai Ansano, 32, a creative-arts director who has lived in the city since 1985.

The restaurant’s most popular items are fried chicken, burgers and spaghetti topped with ham and a sweet tomato sauce. More traditional Filipino dishes, such as milkfish and thin noodle pancit, are also served.

The food is an acquired taste.

“My boys were scared at first. I got them to get into it,” said Michael Szymanski, a 54-year-old who works in Jersey City’s school. He was one of the restaurant’s few patrons Sunday who wasn’t Filipino.

Born as an ice-cream parlor in Cubao in 1975, Jollibee is now the largest restaurant group in the Philippines, with 746 branches, according to company statistics. Outposts have also cropped up in Vietnam, Brunei and Qatar, where there are large numbers of Filipino guest workers. Most of the 27 branches in the U.S. are on the West Coast.

The company spent two years planning the Jersey City outpost, spending $1 million to remodel an old gym, Ms. Villamayor said. The chain aims to further expand into the U.S., with a branch in Virginia Beach, Va., set to be the third on the East Coast.

The company’s expansion could bode well if the devoted following in Jersey City is any indication. One man set up a director’s chair outside the restaurant at 5 a.m. to be the first person inside.

Said Ms. Villamayor, “He wanted to make history.”


—Sharon Adarlo contributed to this article.

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