Beloved Filipino restaurant chain Jollibee will open a flagship London restaurant in Leicester Square early next year. Planning documents submitted to Westminster Council show that it will open at 22 Leicester Square on the site of Bella Italia, with the opening part of a broader push to expand across the U.K. according to Big Hospitality.
Chickenjoy fried chicken and spaghetti with hot dogs initially named for its mascot, Hetty, are the key menu items that have come over to the U.K. operation; its menu in the Philippines is broader, with longganisa at breakfast and pancit palabok, the Filipino noodle dish heavy on meaty pork and the umami bass note of dried fish. In a guide to pastas designed to make Italians mad at food, Eater London contributor Hester van Hensbergen wrote:
Filipino restaurant chain Jollibee first introduced its spaghetti special in 1979. Five years later, the chain’s red bee representative was joined by stringy-haired and pink skirted Hetty, the mascot of said spaghetti. Now a global mega-corporation, with thousands of outlets worldwide, Londoners can get their hands on all the signatures, too, including Chickenjoy fried chicken, Yumburgers, Jolly hotdogs, and Jolly pasta. The spaghetti is a babyish concoction: Hetty’s pigtails are doused in a lurid, cheek-blushingly sweet sauce with mince and chopped hot dogs, and then topped with grated cheese ... Or cuttings from the floor of Hetty’s hairdressers. The dish is usually served with the fried chicken.
With another London restaurant in Earl’s Court that opened in 2018, an opening in Liverpool and another in Leicester, its ambitious plans for 50 U.K. restaurants look to be in motion despite the business impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.