3 days outside: Edmonton Jollibee's 1st customer already in line

A new Filipino fast-food restaurant in Edmonton has been the source of much buzz and media attention, but the man who has been camped outside the restaurant for the past 24 hours is garnering more.

'Lots of people think I'm a marketing stunt,' says Jordan Haworth

Jordan Haworth plans to be in the Jollibee lineup for about three days. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC)

A new Filipino fast-food restaurant in Edmonton has been the source of much buzz and media attention before its opening, but the man who has been camped outside the restaurant for the past 24 hours is garnering even more. 

Jordan Haworth plans to spend almost three days outside the Jollibee, patiently waiting for it to open at 7 a.m. Friday. 

The Edmonton location, at 3803 Calgary Trail, is the fifth Canadian restaurant for the company, which has been hailed as the McDonald's of the Philippines. Jollibee's menu features items with names like Jolly Spaghetti, Jolly Crispy Chicken, Big Yum and Yum with Cheese.

Haworth, 26, started the lineup at 9 a.m. Tuesday. He was inspired to take on the challenge by his mother, who travelled to the Philippines years ago and has been raving about Jollibee ever since. 

Haworth has never tried any of its food.

He spent the night wrapped in his sleeping bag, lounging awkwardly across two foldable camping chairs. It was not comfortable.

Since his arrival, about 10 other people have set up spots in line. 

Haworth's mother checks in with Haworth periodically, and nearby businesses have been very supportive. 

"Lots of offers for food and accommodations, lots of pictures," said Haworth. 

But there are a few skeptics. 

"Lots of people think I'm a marketing stunt by Jollibee," Haworth said.

"I had to make this shirt because people thought I was homeless and just decided to live outside of Jollibee."

His white T-shirt bears a slogan scrawled in felt pen: "1st IN LINE #It'sOurTurn."

The first Jollibee opened more than 40 years ago. The chain has since exploded and now has more than 1,300 locations internationally, including restaurants in the United States, Vietnam and Singapore.

In 2015, the chain announced plans to open 100 locations in Canada.

Its first Canadian location opened in Winnipeg in 2016. Hundreds of people lined up in –26 C cold to try the food. The excitement didn't wane when Jollibee opened its second location in Winnipeg. 

Alberta will get its second Jollibee within a year, in Calgary.

Haworth said he was driven to be first in line for the Edmonton opening.

"You can't really predict people … so if you get about 24 hours ahead of your nearest projection, you're going to win," he said. "And I won."

He's already been interviewed about a dozen times for blogs, YouTube channels and media outlets.

He also piqued the attention of Zabih Davary-Diaz. 

Zabih Davary-Diaz was planning on getting in line Thursday morning, but after he saw Haworth in line, he knew he needed to go earlier. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC)

Davary-Diaz, 27,  had planned to get in line on Thursday morning. 

"Then I see Jordan on Tuesday, already there with a first-in-line shirt and banner," said Davary-Diaz. 

He talked to Haworth, and asked him to save him a spot. He's in line now but has to go home occasionally to help his wife with their three kids. 

He said he'll likely bring home some chicken for his family. He's not sure what he's going to order for himself yet. 

"Maybe I'll have the spaghetti, because I've never had spaghetti at a fast-food joint before."

In the meantime, locals are getting excited for the opening day as well:

The first 50 people to spend more than $25 at the Edmonton location will get a free bucket of chicken a month for a year. 

Haworth says he's excited for Friday — partly for the chicken, but mostly so he can finally leave the line. 

Edmonton's 1st Jollibee opens on Friday at 7 a.m. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC)


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