Michigan’s First Jollibee Opens Near Lakeside Mall

The Filipino fast-food chain serves up fried chicken along with unique offerings like spaghetti topped with “sweet style” sauce, hot dog, and ham.
79

 

Droves of metro Detroiters have been lining up for Jollibee (pronounced “jolly bee”), which made its Michigan debut today just off Hall Road in front of Lakeside Mall.

The fast-food chain, which is headquartered in The Philippines, is known for its bone-in fried chicken (Chickenjoy Buckets), and chicken sandwiches. In addition, there are offerings one might not see at a typical American drive-thru — like the Peach Mango Pie, and sides of rice.  Also on the menu is the Jolly Spaghetti topped with “sweet style” sauce, hot dog, and ham — the late Anthony Bourdain professed his love for the dish while visiting Manila in an episode of CNN’s Parts Unknown.

Founded in 1978, Jollibee is the Philippines’ leading fast food chain, and has slowly but surely been expanding its U.S. presence since 1998, with 72 locations in 14 states currently. Worldwide, the Jollibee Group owns over 6,700 stores in 34 countries, including restaurants in China, Canada, the U. K., Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates, and Australia. The company also owns Smashburger, and the franchise rights in the Philippines for Burger King and Panda Express.

For its first location in Michigan, the company chose the Sterling Heights site for its high traffic and proximity to other dining establishments, Nick Bedell, Jollibee Group North America’s marketing director told Hour Detroit. “We absolutely would love to expand more in the Detroit area,” he adds. “We don’t have specific sites picked out at this point in time, but expansion is something we’ve very focused on and should be coming in the coming years.”

On Jan. 11, Hour Detroit staff was invited to preview some of the menu items. As first-timers, here’s what we thought:

Pineapple Quencher 

Billed as a “sweet taste of the Philippines,” the Pineapple Quencher was refreshing and provided a sweet counterbalance to the savory dishes on the menu, a bit like how Taco Bell’s Baja Blast compliments a Crunchwrap Supreme.

Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Fried chicken breast, jalapeno, and sriracha mayo come together on a brioche bun. The sandwich stayed together nicely, and the chicken was quite juicy — hand-breaded, and slightly above the typical quality you’d expect from a fast-food joint. It had a nice kick, but nothing overpowering. For the spice-avoidant — the Original Chicken Sandwich is made with Umami Mayo sans jalapenos.

Chickenjoy Bucket

The chicken was “moist on the inside, nice and crispy on the outside,” says Hour City Studios videographer Heather Moody, adding “It didn’t feel greasy like a lot of other fried chicken can tend to be, and it was tasty!”

Sides

The mac and cheese was ultra-cheesy and tasty — compare it to KFC’s mac and cheese (but better). The pillowy mashed potatoes were served with a decadent, peppery gravy that is sure to warm your heart.

Jollibee is open daily for drive-thru, takeout and dine-in service from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. at 44945 Woodridge Drive in Sterling Heights. For more information, visit jollibeefoods.com. Plus, check out hourdetroit.com for even more metro Detroit food news.