Eager diners chanted "Chickenjoy! Chickenjoy!" outside the Jollibee restaurant in Dededo as they waited for the doors to open on Saturday. At 9 a.m., the familiar Jollibee mascot came out of the door, signaling the official opening of the flagship brand of the Philippines’ Jollibee Foods Corp. on Guam.
Amid the fiesta sensation, Jollibee poised to compete in Guam’s booming fast-food market.
Approximately 900 rain-soaked customers camped out overnight at the Micronesia Mall premises to wait for the restaurant’s grand opening. By 2 p.m., Jollibee said the restaurant served 1,300 customers.
The Guam franchise, owned by Joseph Chua, is the 38th Jollibee outlet in the United States. Jollibee, Asia’s largest food service company, has over 1,300 stores in 16 countries.
"This was an exciting day for both Jollibee and our many fans in Guam who have awaited the opening of our store here," said Dennis Flores, Jollibee Foods Corp.'s president and head of international business. “It was so fun to see such a diverse, eclectic group of people who call Guam home queueing up to enjoy our offerings and to experience it together.”
Jollibee Guam is strategically located in Dededo, where the Filipino population is concentrated. At the home front, Jollibee dominated the Philippine market by a significant margin compared to its competitors, such as McDonald's, Burger King and KFC.
While catering to homesick Filipino diaspora, Jollibee seeks to expand its appeal to the world market. Some of its items on the menu are American-influenced, such as burgers and fries.
The brand’s opening on island was preceded by the company’s expansion in London, Manhattan and Milan late last year, according to Pauline Roxas-Chua Lao, head of corporate communications. "We have a total of 4,500 outlets in the Philippines and around the world. In Vietnam alone, we have 100 outlets,” Lao said.
Lao said Jollibee Guam's official inauguration is scheduled for June 6.
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Jollibee's expansion is "part of its overarching goal to be among the top five restaurant brands globally,” the company said in a press statement.
In February, Ernesto Tanmantiong, JFC;s chief executive officer, said Jollibee opened 502 new stores worldwide or a rate of 1.4 new stores per day. "We continue to pursue our aspiration to become one of the top restaurant companies in the world,” he said.
Jollibee reentered the local market after shutting down its outlet at Compadres Mall in 2004. “The diversity of Guam’s food culture and their openness to trying new dishes has encouraged us to open Jollibee on the island,” the company said in an email.
The company said its signature dish, Chickenjoy, registered a wider appeal in the new markets where Jollibee has opened. “Chickenjoy enjoys a loyal fan base across the world and continues to draw in new fans - hopefully in Guam, too,” the company said.
Besides the crispy hand-breaded fried chicken, Jollibee is also known for its Jolly Spaghetti topped with its signature sweet-style sauce with chunky meat and cheese and Burger Steak which is made with 100 percent pure beef with a special mushroom sauce.
Jollibee Guam occupies a 400-sq.meter facility with a 205-seating capacity. It features a modern tropical design, with areas for al fresco dining and a room specially designed for children’s parties.
“The long wait was worth it. It was a new, fun experience. It’s even better than what I had heard,” said Yigo resident Landon Laureano, who received the VIP treatment for securing the first spot in the customer in line at 9 p.m. the night before the opening.