Jollibee is now officially open in Winnipeg. This will be the first location for the Philippines-based franchise that rivals McDonald’s in popularity in the Pacific. As the representatives of Access Winnipeg, myself and photographer Matraisa Klippenstein joined a very large gathering to see what the new entry to Winnipeg was all about.
The media was invited to preview the Polo Park location on Ellice on Wednesday. Senior executives from Jollibee were present to oversee the preview and to highlight other cities where the restaurants will expand to. Those cities are Edmonton, Mississauga and Scarborough.
Maribeth dela Cruz, vice-president of Jollibee Foods Corp. North America, told the assembled guests that any question of why they came to Winnipeg was addressed by seeing Filipinos at every turn when she came to the city.
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The Winnipeg store at 1406 Ellice will be the first for Canada and 35th for the restaurant company in North America according to Jose Minana, Jollibee Foods Corporation Group President for North America in from California with the opening team. Another Jollibee at Northgate Plaza at McPhillips will be Canada’s second and opens in spring of 2017.
In keeping with a faithful country of origin, a blessing by a priest was read and the Jose Minana, execs and honoured guests threw chocolate and and coins in the crowd.
The Philippines Honorary Counsel Ronaldo Opina and St. Norbert MLA Jon Reyes were among guests which included builders, suppliers and media.
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Full staff were in attendance including some managers who are now residents in Winnipeg but worked for a total of nearly a 100 years of experience between them at Jollibee in the Philippines before emigrating to Canada.
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The one location hired 100 staff members for what they believe will be a very busy restaurant for the company.
The Jollibee mascot showed up at the end and a massive bucket of chicken was distributed to guests who exited into a cold afternoon with their Chicken Joy.