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:
Beloved Filipino fast food chain #Jollibee opened its second Florida location in Pinellas Park, Friday, 1/17/22, 4057 Park Boulevard North. People drove for hours to purchase the stores ChickenJoy and other items. The even sleep overnight in the parking lot! @TB_Times #chickenjoy pic.twitter.com/avGy4xTCry
— Scott Keeler (@SKeelerTimes) January 17, 2020
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.