On a warm summer day in Edmonton, a line of people has formed, neatly herded by a rope under the cover of several tents, in front of an unassuming building in a southside shopping centre. A man stands guard at the front of the line, asking individuals how many people per party and ushering in just a few at a time.
No, this isn’t the scene outside some hot, new Edmonton nightclub. It’s dinnertime and the crowd is waiting to eat at Edmonton’s first Jollibee – suddenly, it’s the place to be.
The first time I heard about Jollibee was after Anthony Bourdain’s visit to Manila in Parts Unknown, where he called it “the wackiest, jolliest place on earth.” Founded in the Philippines, the fast-food chain has become an absolute sensation across the globe.
Store openings attract crowds days in advance – the first person in line for the Edmonton opening waited three days to be exact. So what is all the hype about?