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This Fast-Growing Asian Chain Is Planning to Open 234 New Locations

The Filipino fast-food joint is winning America over.

If you're not familiar with the Filipino fast-food chain Jollibee, that will likely change soon. The company currently has a modest 66 units in all of North America, located in only a dozen American states and four Canadian provinces, according to QSR Magazine. But the brand's global popularity spans its native Asia, as well as the Middle East and Europe, as Jollibee operates more than 1,400 restaurants around the world. Its North American presence is now ready to grow with new plans for a massive expansion in the next decade.

Established in 1978 in Quezon City, the most populous city in the Philippines, Jollibee is known primarily for fried chicken and several signature Filipino-inspired dishes, such as the Palabok Fiesta, which features fried eggs, shrimp, and sauce over noodles; Burger Steaks served with mushrooms and steamed rice; and the Yumburger, which is any variety of hamburger or cheeseburger served with a special proprietary sauce.

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The company has traditionally been popular in North American markets with large Filipino communities, and their initial expansion here will follow the same roadmap, with more than two dozen locations opening this year in cities including New York, Chicago, and Vancouver. But Jollibee is confident the brand will soon grow more mainstream and gain a following in regions without a large Filipino or South Asian populations. The chain announced that by 2025, their plan is to grow to 300 North American locations. Its success will likely rest on the "emphasis on great tasting food as well as just really a joyful type of service," according to the president of Jollibee North America Maribeth Dela Cruz.

Though the company has been slow to expand in America since opening its first U.S. location in Daly City, Calif. in 1998, that pace is set to change and Jollibee is likely to eclipse the presence of other Asian fast-food chains in the United States soon. Yoshinoya, a competitor from Japan, currently has just over 100 stores in America. But some other major brands serving Asian food will still likely outnumber Jollibee locations. Panda Express, for example, has some 2,200 locations in the United States, which put it ahead of the pack for years to come.

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Steven John
Steven John is a freelancer writer for Eat This, Not That! based just outside New York City. Read more about Steven