It’s really nice to see Jollibee is now a big hit in countries other than the Philippines. I’m not big on hometown pride and all of that, however, I do feel a little twinge of happiness that a fast food franchise from my country is taking great strides in places like the United States and Canada. I myself was very surprised that a lot of people would be willing to line up for hours at the Manhattan Jollibee branch just to sample the food there. That’s really impressive for a fast food restaurant that has a giant anthropomorphic bee as their mascot.
Alas, not every Filipino fast food franchise can hit the same success as Jollibee has. In fact, a lot of the places I used to eat at while growing up are now just wistful memories and I will never get a chance to dine on the food there ever again. They have simply been outmaneuvered by other places like McDonalds, Wendy’s and even the aforementioned Jollibee and have closed up show for good.
Or have they?
It actually turns out a lot of my childhood hangouts and go-to places to eat are still active! They certainly aren’t as big as they were before but they’re still out there, still alive and kicking! So, let’s go check out five “dead” Philippines fast food places that are actually still alive in one way or another.
For a lot of people, this was the place to be.
Not exactly fast food and not exactly fine dining either, Cindy’s was a mainstay for a lot of kids back in the days. While the original store was essentially a bakery, they soon expanded to serving meals, which is when they did start of make it big back in their heyday. A lot of kids have fond memories of the chicken barbecue, spaghetti and fries. They weren’t able to maintain their early success and most of their branches in the Metro Manila area shuttered down during the ’90s.
However, that doesn’t mean Cindy’s has been wiped out of the Philippine map. According to their official website, they do still have a lot of branches littered throughout the country but most of the locations are focused on the bakery portion as only a few of their stores actually serve the aforementioned chicken barbecue, spaghetti and fries.
#2 Magoo’s Pizza
It’s hard to figure out why they decided using the blind, old guy from the cartoons would make a good mascot for a pizza chain.
Story time! When I was a kid, my father would usually take up bowling on the weekend. It was a fun time for me as, afterwards, we would go the video rental store down below the bowling alley and I could rent out cartoons. But one of my favorite parts of our weekly trips to the bowling alley was I had a chance to get a fresh slice of Magoo’s Pizza. That bowling alley is now a huge shopping complex and it took down the Magoo’s Pizza branch down with it.
I honestly thought there weren’t any Magoo’s Pizza branches out there for a while since I’ve never seen any all throughout me growing up into adulthood. It turns out I was dead wrong because I did stumble on their Eastwood branch one day when I was assigned to that area for work! While definitely not as popular as it was before, there are still a good number of Magoo’s Pizza places out there in the Philippines. Heck, their website even touts you can order their pizzas online now!
#3 Tom Sawyer’s Chicken
You ever think Tom Sawyer actually made good fried chicken? I don’t remember that from the book!
I will say that I don’t think a lot of people in the Philippines actually remember eating at a Tom Sawyer’s Chicken place. My memory is hazy regarding the time period but I do think they opened up a few months after the first few Kentucky Fried Chicken places opened up here in the Philippines. Basically, Tom Sawyer’s Chicken was the only real fast food competition for Colonel Sander’s version of Southern fried chicken. They did put up a good fight as Tom Sawyer’s Chicken opened up around a dozen or so branches in the Philippines but they just couldn’t take down the Colonel.
Tom Sawyer’s Chicken is experiencing a bit of a revival now, though. A couple of branches have opened up in the country, namely in Tiendesitas and along Congressional Avenue; I would link the actual site here but Google is reporting that the site is not secure so I won’t. I also have to note they might be opening a third branch in the Capitol Commons/Estancia area.
Yes, it’s just one single word. One. Word.
At around the time McDonalds and Jollibee were gaining steam, Mushroomburger places started to pop out like… mushrooms, I guess. They do have something different to offer than the aforementioned fast food restaurants as, like the name suggests, Mushroomburgers’ burgers are actually not 100% pure beef. Instead it’s a mixture of around half beef and half ground mushrooms, supposedly making it a legitimate alternative to the other burger places out there.
Unfortunately, Mushroomburger just couldn’t keep up with the necessary expansion as, according to their website, they do grow their own mushrooms and they probably couldn’t really handle the needed supply and demand. They still have around three branches around the Philippines so there’s that.
#5 Chew Chew Junction
The great spaghetti station!
One of my most favorite memories I have growing up was eating a Chew Chew Junction. I do have some fond memories of eating their signature Crispy Chips spaghetti, which is, simply put, their classic spaghetti with meat sauce but topped with crispy bacon bits. But my most vivid memories about Chew Chew Junction was the experience of going to the actual restaurant as the dining area is set up like an actual train car and it would actually shake at times to simulate the train was moving. I did like the spaghetti but I mostly love just the experience of eating in a “train.”
This year, Chew Chew Junction reopened its tracks but, unfortunately, they don’t have the iconic store gimmick at this time as they’ve only opened up for delivery. Their Facebook page doesn’t mention if they’ll ever open up a physical store, which does make me sad. I wanna eat in a “train” again and relive my childhood!
BONUS: Orange Julius and Mango Brutus
Okay, this is just a bonus entry because this is a cheat. Orange Julius and Mango Brutus were kind of juice bars as well as offering food items like burgers and fries. There is still no signs of either Orange Julius or Mango Brutus re-opening anytime soon anywhere in the Philippines.
There is, however, Orange Brutus.
The really weird thing is there are a lot of Orange Brutus locations in the Philippines! The reason why you might not know they exist is because most of them are located in Cebu or the Visayas area. Orange Brutus has never ventured out north to the more populated Metro Manila area. But I do think they have a chance of being a hit here because I do know a good number of people who would get a kick of eating at a place that’s obviously paying homage to Orange Julius and Mango Brutus. Tell me I’m wrong!
What other nostalgic fast food or restaurants do you have fond memories of? Are they still active? Let me know in the comments section below!