A Jollibee Foods Corp. restaurant stands in Quezon City, Metro Manila, the Philippines.(Photographer: Veejay Villafranca/Bloomberg)

Jollibee Fried Chicken Tempting More Than Homesick Filipinos

(Bloomberg) -- Better watch out Kentucky Fried Chicken, Jollibee is planning to eat into your markets.

Jollibee Foods Corp. wants to expand to 150 stores in the U.S. in five years from 37 branches now, Chief Executive Officer Ernesto Tanmantiong said in an interview. The company also plans 100 additional stores in Canada as part of a push to land in the world’s top 5 quick service restaurants.

Jollibee Fried Chicken Tempting More Than Homesick Filipinos

“The fried chicken market in the U.S. is quite huge,” Tanmantiong told Bloomberg Television’s Shery Ahn and Amanda Lang. “This is just the first leg of our journey, to be one of the major players in the fried chicken market.”

It’s no longer just the homesick Filipinos that the Philippine fast-food chain is serving in overseas branches as Asians and Americans take a liking to its signature fried chicken. Tanmantiong described the dish as “juicy-licious on the inside and crispy-licious on the outside.”

The company that started out with two ice cream parlors in the 1970s now has 4,300 stores in 20 countries including in its native Philippines, Tanmantiong said. Its portfolio includes 14 brands including Smashburger and Tortas Frontera.

At the opening of the first Manhattan store last month, almost half of the customers were “mainstream Americans,” the CEO said. He’s seeing the same trend in Chicago, Florida, Houston, Singapore and Hong Kong.

“Our strategy in entering U.S. is to go to where large Filipino communities are and from there, we crossover to mainstream markets,” Tanmantiong said.

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