Jollibee, the worldwide fast food chain from the Philippines with a hyper-loyal fanbase, will open its first location in the greater D.C. area this week. The company announced today its new store at the Westfield mall in Wheaton, Maryland, will open for buckets of fried “chickenjoy” with brown gravy, “yumburgers,” sweet cheesy spaghetti loaded with hot dogs and ham, peach mango handpies, and other favorites on Thursday, April 8.
The new store (2800 University Boulevard West, Suite C.) will open every day from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Customers can phone in preorders to 240-657-9850 up to two hours ahead of time and will receive a text message alerting them when it’s ready for pickup. Takeout and delivery will also be available through DoorDash. The store will not host indoor dining nor permit walk-in ordering upon opening due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is not a drive-thru at the mall address.
Jollibee openings are typically grand events celebrated with furry bee mascot appearances, stunty giant chicken buckets, and lots of media fanfare. Filipino ex-pats have deep nostalgic ties to a brand that’s the Southeast Asian country’s largest restaurant operator. The chain has professed lofty goals, including a plan to open 450 locations in 2021 while aiming to become one of the top five largest restaurant brands across the globe. Bloomberg reports that Jollibee took an annual loss in 2020 for the first time in at least 30 years because of the global health crisis. The company operates more than 5,800 stores in 33 countries.
In the D.C. market, Jollibee enters an area with a tight-knight community of Filipino-American restaurants, including nationally recognized Bad Saint, Purple Patch, the Game Sports Pub, and — not far from Wheaton — Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly. Chefs Tom Cunanan and Paolo Dungca have professed their admiration for the brand while opening Pogiboy, a food hall stall in downtown D.C. with its own homages to Jollibee chicken, spaghetti, and burgers. Cunanan, a James Beard award-winner, previously told Eater that Jollibee is “like everybody’s happy place.”
Ahead of this week’s opening, a Virginia Beach store has been Jollibee’s only location in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia. A second D.C.-area shop is heading to the Plaza at Landmark development in Springfield, Virginia.