NEW YORK — The rain and chilly weather did not stop these East Coasters who stood in line — some, for 20 hours – just for bragging rights of being known as the first customers of Manhattan’s first-ever Jollibee.
Justin Callan is customer number 1, who came to the store 20 hours before the store opened at 8 am on Saturday.
“I’ve been to Jollibees in LA, in Chicago, in Scarborough, in Toronto that recently opened, and this one opening in New York City is a big deal, a big occasion. I wanted to come out and be the first one in line.”
In celebration of Jollibee’s 4oth anniversary, the first 40 customers received a free bucket of Chickenjoy every month for an entire year.
The first 300 customers got a free Jollibee plush toy, and those who came in costume got a special Funko pop 40th anniversary Jollibee – the vinyl is worth $75, while the metallic is worth at least $325 a pop.
While Filipinos have been enjoying Jollibee’s famous Chickenjoy for years, there’s a growing number of non-Filipino Jollibee fans around the world.
Jollibee’s North America president said social media, especially YouTube videos that have gone viral, introduced Jollibee to a bigger audience.
“You could see them here, the first 100, I mean maybe half of them were non-Filipinos, just really curious onlookers, really adventurous, people who really want to try good food,” said Jose a Miñaña Jr.
Ultimately, Minana said Jollibee’s biggest dream is to become one of the top five companies in the restaurant business in the world.
For now, its North America fans are happy to see the company grow.
“Just being a part of the experience, making the history, building another monument here in Times Square in the heart of Manhattan — once something is in Manhattan, it’s conquering America,” said Matthew Sterner.