Edmonton’s Jollibee craze spawns ‘skip the line’ venture

Edmonton’s Jollibee craze sees hungry customers pay people to wait in line for them
WATCH ABOVE: Maryellle Gana (left) and Ivana Recinos (right) have people paying them to wait in line for their food at the new Jollibee restaurant in Edmonton.

Since it first opened nearly two weeks ago, it’s been sheer pandemonium at a popular Filipino fast-food chain in south Edmonton, and that has prompted a pair of friends to tap into their entrepreneurial instincts to make some extra money.

“This whole plan started out as a joke,” Maryellle Gana told Global News outside the Jollibee restaurant on Calgary Trail.

“We were kind of like, ‘What if we stood in line for people?’

“We did see people were doing this before but I think they actually meant it as a joke,” she added. “At first, we were joking too but then we kind of took it seriously. And then we started posting ads on Facebook and then that’s how this popped off.”

Long lines are seen at Edmonton’s Jollibee restaurant on Aug. 28, 2019.
Long lines are seen at Edmonton’s Jollibee restaurant on Aug. 28, 2019. Les Knight/ Global News

With Edmontonians waiting not just minutes, but often hours to sample Jollibee’s fare, Gana and her friend Ivana Recinos realized they may be able to put a dollar value on the privilege of getting “jolly crispy chicken” or “jolly spaghetti” without braving what are often long queues to place an order.

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READ MORE: Popular Filipino fast food chain Jollibee opens in Edmonton to huge fanfare

When asked how their services compares to Skip the Dishes, Gana and Recinos said their idea is more like “skip the line.” They said their fee for waiting in line is $15 an hour and there’s an extra $6 fee for delivery.

“I was like, ‘I can’t believe we’re doing this,'” Recinos said when asked what it was like the first time they picked up food for a customer.

“It was kind of like, ‘Oh, yeah, we’re doing this. This seems like a thing we can do,'” Gana added.

Watch below: (From Aug. 16, 2019) One man waited in line for three days to be the first customer at Edmonton’s new Jollibee restaurant. Sarah Ryan spoke to him shortly before he walked through the Jollibee doors.

Edmonton Jollibee restaurant opens to euphoria
Edmonton Jollibee restaurant opens to euphoria

Both Gana and Recinos said their friends didn’t quite believe them when they told them about their plan.

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“They’re like, ‘You have to be joking,'” Recinos said. “‘You aren’t serious.’ And we’re like, ‘Oh, we’re serious.'”

When Jollibee first opened in Alberta’s capital earlier this month, hundreds of people lined up to be the eatery’s first customers. Some people even lined up for days in advance. The crowd cheered, sang and danced shortly before the restaurant opened.

READ MORE: Line forms at Edmonton’s first Jollibee days before opening: ‘It’s going to be great’

“It’s almost more than chicken,” Recinos said when asked why the Filipino chain generates such excitement in Canada. “I know both me and Maryelle’s parents are from the Philippines and they haven’t been home in 20 years. This is like their little piece of home.

“That’s why it’s such a big deal for the Filipino community… We equate a lot of our culture with food.”

Watch below: (From Aug. 14, 2019) Its grand opening is still a couple of days away but there’s already a lineup for a new fast food restaurant called Jollibee in south Edmonton.

Excitement builds for grand opening of Jollibee in south Edmonton
Excitement builds for grand opening of Jollibee in south Edmonton

Suspecting the restaurant would see long lines in the initial days after it opened, Gana said she was originally planning to wait before visiting the restaurant herself.

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“I was saying like, ‘I’m going to skip the line and wait like four months,'” she said. “I guess, like now, here I am. I’m already in line. I might as well [try the food].”

READ MORE: Jollibee expands in Canada, opens first Toronto location

Gana and Recinos have already secured six customers. They laughed when asked if their idea could turn into full-time jobs, saying they both plan to stop next week when they go back to school.