Seafood City soon to open in Spring 2017, Jollibee plans to open several locations

By Jane Taguicana

Mary Ann Bie’s grocery list for Seafood City Supermarket is ready. On top of it is a crispy snack she’s been craving for which reminds her of her childhood in the Philippines.

Ever since she and her husband visited two locations during their West Coast trip in 2013, the 39-year-old from Mississauga can’t wait for the grocery chain’s opening.

Seafood City is the only grocer in the U.S. that carries Filipino staple goods and ingredients. It boasts 23 locations in four states and is about to open another in Chicago in the fall.

For Canadians, the wait will be over by Spring 2017 as it opens its first store north of the 49th parallel in Heartland Town Centre in Mississauga.

“We’re all excited to open in Canada,” said Mildred Smith, Seafood City’s marketing manager.

She said that the store has been looking to open here for a while but the biggest challenge was finding the space.

“We need a big space because wherever we open, we bring Filipino Town.”

That town will include Grill City, which will serve all-things barbecue such as the popular skewered pork, chicken wings and longganisa. But if you’re craving for crispy pata, fried chicken or pork skin, you can head to Crispy Town, which sells fried snack food.

After grocery and snacks, Bie can head to the other stores within the supermarket to send money or grab a balikbayan box, have dinner or stop by at the bakeshops.

The grocer will house the Philippines’ No. 1 hamburger chain Jollibee, Chowking, balikbayan box provider Atlas Shippers International, Red Ribbon and Valerio’s Tropical Bakeshop.

As of early July, Seafood City said it is still negotiating with Goldilocks, which is a staple at some of the grocer’s locations.

Bie’s visit started with a stop in Jollibee, which she admits was the main attraction in going to the grocer.

The burger chain famous for its Chickenjoy fried chicken and mango-topped hamburger announced earlier in the year that it will also open stores across Canada. Details were not provided and requests for interview from this magazine have not been returned.

Jollibee Foods Corp. has 2,833 stores worldwide as of 2014 with locations in about a dozen countries including Singapore, Qatar and the U.S.

Canada has seen an influx of migrants from the island nation at the beginning of the 21st century, with more than 700,000 people of Filipino descent calling Canada their home. In 2014, Philippines became the top source country for immigration with 40,000 becoming permanent residents. Statistics Canada’s latest survey also find that Tagalog is the fastest growing language in the country.

About half of these migrants reside in the Greater Toronto Area.

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