BLOG: Jollibee in Winnipeg: Is the hype over?


A  month  since  Philippine fastfood  giant  opened its first store in Canada,   enthusiastic  customers  still   line up to have a taste of their much loved childhood meals.  But this time,   waiting  is  a lot shorter.  On the average,  actual time  from   lining up, ordering, waiting  for the order and  grabbing a table for  dine  in,  is down to  between  20 to 40 minutes  on a weekday  evening   rush hour.  You can grab a seat and dine inside in as quick as ten minutes  during  daytime  non-rush hours.


Winnipeg  opened its first Jollibee store in Ellice Ave on  December 15th, 2016.  Another  branch at  Northgate  will   open first quarter of  2017 which expectedly   should  split the  customers and make the waiting time shorter.   For a time,  social media  was  flooded  with  posts and selfies  from customers  who couldn’t hide  their excitement  during  their first visits.


It’s the  “At home ka rito” (You are at home)   feeling, smell and taste, according to many.    Winnipeg  was chosen  as  location   because of its  large   Filipino community in  Canada per capita.    And  while  Jollibee becomes  attractive to  curious  non-Filipino friends,   many  believe that   Jollibee  is not  a    threat to  other  fast food  like Mc Donalds  (except for the issue of parking at a nearby location)    because  each has   its  own   following and set of menu.


On its   first weeks,  the store  implemented  a   ticketing  or number system where  customers get a number and   come back at  a designated time later   during the day .  This  cut  the  waiting time and  ensured   a smooth  and organized  service. The company also set a limit of  $50 dollar per transaction per customer.



Hundreds of eager and patient kababayans braved the colds at minus 25 to minus 30 windchills starting at five in the morning to patiently wait for their turn to grab a ticket. A trailer on stand-by was used as shelter for those who had to wait long hours and could not be accommodated inside the store.


While the ticket system   worked well for some,   there were  those  customers,    especially    coming from the far south or far east of the city   who  thought coming  back  was  waste of time.   There were  those  who   just decided to  wait for  the hype to subside.


For  the first  two and a half   weeks, tickets ran out  before  noon time.   Luckily,  my   friends Daisy and Rhiz  were so  kind  to get me a ticket.


And how did Jollibee taste to my kids who are both picky eaters and big fans of Mc Donalds chicken nuggets?    Son was happy with rice. Daughter   loved  the spaghetti and got some bite of the chicken.



(Official first visit with family and good friend Daisy. Big thanks Rhiz and husband Edison for getting our ticket #1stJollibeeInCanada)


Daisy,  Joji and me   feasted over a bucket of  chicken, spaghetti and palabok  with some kind  of  holiday feeling.  The last time I went to Jollibee was last year when I visited my cousin in Las Vegas.   Some Pinoys haven’t tasted Jollibee for a decade.   For me, the food   all  taste like the ones served   at home.  Refreshing  pineapple  juice and peach mango pie completed our cravings.


Some  combo meals  appear to be pricey   but still affordable and not a reason to drive a  craving  fan.  I notice that breakfast meals are not available.






By the start of   the new year,  Jollibee  removed   the ticket  system and  the  sky is the limit for the orders.


Call it  exaggeration but  the coming of Jollibee  is another  great  reason and  attraction for  Pinoys   to fall in love with this city of extreme windchills. Do not get surprised that some  Pinoys  from other parts of the world without a Jollibee are jealous.


And   just recently,  I had the chance to drop by Jollibee again–more than   a month after it opened.  It was my   friend Anne’s birthday!


Anne, Ryan, Joyce and the kids. What’s better way to celebrate birthday?



There’s  still   this sense of excitement  by the  sight and  taste  of   Jollibee.  Although  I admit,   not as much at the first time.

And just like lovers on honeymoon stage,   I might  just  enjoy this feeling so long as it last.


Second visit and can’t hide the excitement.    Thank you Anne for the photo.


Posted in Donna Natividad-Arenas

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