NEW YORK – If there’s Chickenjoy, there’s Carol Joyce Pena. Even a Nor’easter would not stop her from having it. A fan since she was a kid, she was among the patrons who were at the opening of Jollibee’s newest location at 609 Eighth Avenue near Times Square and Port Authority on Oct. 27.
Manang Joyce, as she is fondly called by her friends, arrived after midnight with just street and neon lamps from nearby establishments lighting the streets. She traveled from her home in Floral Park, NY to Port Authority with no expectation of what her trip would turn into that day.
The previous night, she won in a raffle 1,000 shares of Qudos, a newly launched Filipino-owned car-service provider. To her surprise, as she arrived, she was number 37 in the queue, which won her a free, year’s supply of a bucket of ChickenJoy beginning next month.
But it wasn’t just Manang Joyce, a Fil-Am, who was known to have won a prize. Faye Javier of Coney Island, Brooklyn, the second person in line, was there, too, with her boyfriend, Justin Callan, the first customer in the queue.
According to Manang Joyce, she will be getting her ChickenJoy every month until December 2019. “But only at Jollibee Manhattan Branch,” she said.
That’s the Jollibee way of thanking customers for the outpour of support, and to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary. The first 40 customers in line were awarded free ChickenJoy for a year and given Jollibee collectibles to the first 300 customers in line. Exclusive Jollibee Funko Pop! figures were awarded to creative customers who showed up in Jollibee costumes for the opening.
“It was extremely cold that night and raining non-stop,” Manang Joyce told the Philippine Daily Mirror. “Many people were sitting on the concrete pavement or standing in line with umbrellas in their hands.”
They were shivering from the cold, she said, as strong winds whipped at their faces. “We relied on our heavy jacket to warm our bodies. We didn’t care, we were all excited to eat our favorite Jollibee meal,” she said. She waited for 7 hours before the store opened at 8 a.m. Callan and Javier were there for a 20-hour wait.
Although she was also in Woodside, Queens when Jollibee first opened its first restaurant in New York in 2011, she wanted to be part of Jollibee’s 40th anniversary and celebrate Filipino pride in the largest fast-food chain brand in the Philippines now operating in 20 countries. Besides, she was craving for a bite of her favorite meals in the menu – ChickenJoy and Spaghetti the night before.
Jose Minana, Jollibee Food Corporation (JFC) Group President for North America and Vice President and General Manager Maribeth de la Cruz formally opened the newest restaurant and cut the ceremonial ribbon. About 100 patrons trooped inside to sample Jollibee’s meals.
“We are thrilled to open this milestone location,” said Jose Miñana, JFC Group President for North America. “Our vision is to be among the top five restaurant companies in the world and success in key urban centers like New York is critical. Manhattan is really the pinnacle for any brand as it’s such a melting pot of cultures and draws visitors from all corners of the world. We cannot wait for this city to experience and fall in love with the unique flavors of Jollibee.”
“This experience told me that I was surely a Mega Jollibee Fan to wait in the Nor’easter weather rain, winds, cold air and all,” said Manang Joyce. “I love ChickenJoy meal so much I didn’t care to notice the weather. I believed that waiting on line till the Jollibee Manhattan opened was worth waiting for no matter what. And that Jollibee is International, so many non-Filipinos love the food as much as Filipinos do too.”
In North America, the Company opened its first store in 1998 in Daly City, California. Jollibee now operates 42 stores across the North American region, in the states of California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Washington, Virginia of the United States and in Manitoba and Ontario in Canada.
Technomic has consistently cited Jollibee among its Top 500 ranking restaurants in the United States. It was also awarded as Multinational Corporation of the Year by the Asian Business League of Southern California in 2017.