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Jax Daily Record Friday, Feb. 24, 201712:00 PM EST

Jollibee scheduled to open March 18

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Jollibee’s first Florida fast-food restaurant should open in about three weeks at 11884 Atlantic Blvd.

The city on Friday approved a banner sign that says “Opening on March 18."

A Jollibee representative said in December it will be its first location in Florida with more to come.

The Philippines-based chain renovated a former Kentucky Fried Chicken and A&W Restaurants building at southwest Atlantic and Kernan boulevards. It is almost 3,500 square feet and is next to The Potter’s House Soul Food Bistro in Kernan Village.

If the grand opening is anything like one in December in Winnipeg, hundreds of people will line up for it, except the weather in Jacksonville is expected to be much more moderate than the subzero temperatures at Jollibee’s first Canadian location.

The BBC News site said Jollibee set up heated trailers outside the restaurant for hungry patrons.

Jollibee said previously the Jacksonville location will be the forerunner for expansion of the largest fast-food chain based in the Philippines. It has 35 U.S. locations, with nearly half in California, and 1,111 stores worldwide.

The restaurant’s menu features Chickenjoy, which is fried chicken, as well as Jolly Spaghetti, a sandwich collection that includes Spam and corned beef, and Chicken Dippers.

Some media refer to it as the McDonald’s of the Philippines.

Jollibee started in 1975 as an ice cream parlor in the Philippines and began its U.S. expansion in 1998. As of mid-February, it had 35 U.S. locations, with nearly half in California, and 1,111 stores worldwide.

It opened its first U.S. restaurant in 1998 in Daly City, Calif., near San Francisco, to cater to the Filipino and Filipino-American families living in the area.

The Jacksonville metro area also has been attractive to the Filipino community.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Filipino community of an estimated 17,200 people comprised about 35 percent of the Asian population in the Jacksonville metro area as of 2014.

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