At last, Tampa Bay gets its own Jollibee!

by Joey deVilla on January 17, 2020

At long last, Tampa Bay has its own Jollibee!

Located in Pinellas Park (4057 Park Blvd North), it opened its doors this morning at 9:00 a.m., and people lined up early in order to be among the first to get inside. Some of them, like this guy, have been there since last night:

Jollibee know that they have a dedicated fanbase who’ll camp out for a grand opening, so they set up some covering to make the campers more comfortable:

To understand what Jollibee means to Filipinos, check out this article: Why Jollibee Is Much More Than a Filipino McDonald’s. Here’s the key paragraph:

But Jollibee is more than just a Filipino restaurant. It’s a symbol of the Philippines itself—delightfully cheesy but totally earnest in its beliefs. We are a karaoke-loving people who embrace all things mawkishly sentimental. We make McDonald’s commercials featuring grandfathers with Alzheimer’s that I can’t even watch the first ten seconds of without tearing up. And I’m not alone in equating Jollibee with homesick feelings for a birthplace I never got to properly know.

If you’re not Filipino or have never been to a Jollibee, you’re probably wondering what it’s like. Let’s start with the late Anthony Bourdain, who visited a Jollibee in Manila for the season 7 premiere of his CNN show, Parts Unknown:

“I sneer at fast food, revile it at every opportunity but I am also a hypocrite because to me, Filipino chain Jollibee is the wackiest, jolliest place on Earth.”

To get a taste for what Jollibee is like in the U.S., I’ll point you to the Fung Bros.’ review of the one in Los Angeles:

Here’s Layne Fable, an American who spent some time in the Philippines, visiting a Jollibee with her brother in New Jersey:

A little closer to home, “LuisYouTube” took some Jollibee first-timers to the branch in Jacksonville:

I will be there soon.

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