Strong Filipino population draws fast food chain Jollibee to expand its reach in Canada
The Jollibee mascot is seen standing in front of one of the company's Winnipeg locations. (Jollibee/Twitter)
Ben Cousins, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Thursday, March 29, 2018 6:34PM EDT
The growing Filipino population in Canada has been catalyst for the biggest fast food chain in Asia to expand its market into Canada.
Jollibee, a Filipino fried chicken restaurant with more than 1,000 locations in the Philippines, is opening its third Canadian location this weekend in Toronto.
“People are very excited for the Easter Sunday opening,” Maribeth dela Cruz, vice president and general manager of Jollibee North America, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview.
“There’s going to be really long lines.”
Jollibee has developed a bit of a following for its famous fried chicken, pineapple-topped burgers, peach-mango pie and spaghetti.
Dela Cruz says the decision to expand into the Toronto market made sense because of the sheer volume of Filipinos in the region. She estimates there are about 300,000 Filipinos living in Ontario with roughly 30,000 of them living within a five-mile radius of their new Scarborough location.
The 2016 Census indicates there are 837,130 Filipinos living in Canada, making it the third largest Asian Canadian group. The population grew by 26 per cent from 2011 to 2016.
“(The Filipino population in Canada) continually grows and we’re very optimistic it will be a good market for us,” she said.
Jollibee began expansion into North America in 1998, with the Toronto location being the 40th franchise to open in the continent. The two other Canadian locations are in Winnipeg.
“(North American expansion has) been very encouraging, especially in locations where there are a lot of Filipinos,” said dela Cruz.
When the first Canadian location opened in Winnipeg back in December 2016, dela Cruz says customers lined up in -30 C weather to get a taste of their fare.
Jollibee provided the dedicated fans who camped overnight with heated trailers.
“Winnipeg actually has a large Filipino population as well,” said dela Cruz. “We expect it’s going to be even bigger here in Toronto.”
Jollibee has plans to continue expanding in North America and Canada, with locations in New York City, Las Vegas and somewhere in California all expected shortly.
The Manila-based company is expected to open an Edmonton restaurant in a couple years with additional plans for locations in Mississauga and downtown Toronto.