Teenagers Turning Restaurants Into The Cool New Hangout Spots As Malls Die Off

A word to any Hollywood screenwriters working on a scene where old cops go back to high school disguised as implausibly believable students — put those characters at a mall and real teenagers will know you don’t know what’s cool these days. Namely, malls are out, and restaurants are in as the new spot to hangout.

Ever since the 1950s, the mall was the place teens begged their parents to let them go to hang out mostly unsupervised, inspiring such cinematic classics like Mallrats and intense brain games like Mall Madness.

But as malls go the way of the dinosaur, kids these days would rather spend their time and money hanging out and eating food at restaurants than by the mall fountain and shopping at Spencer’s (which yes, still exists, for now), reports Quartz.

Teen mall traffic is down by 30% over the last 10 years, according to Piper Jaffray’s 27th semi-annual study into teen behavior. In 2014, teens on average logged 29 trips each to the mall, compared to 38 visits in 2007. And for the first time since the study started, teens are spending more money on food and events than clothing.

“Restaurants have become a gathering place and teens are increasingly suggesting they prefer dining out to other forms of status brand spending,” the report says. “We see restaurants as the next generation hang out for teens.”

That could be an unwelcome change for other patrons, as cops responded to a Brooklyn McDonald’s recently to deal with a ravening horde of teens accustomed to showing up there on a daily basis, reports the New York Daily News.

“It’s out of control,” one employee said of the usual scene.

Dozens of students had been converging on the McDonald’s every afternoon as school let out, yelling at each other, throwing things, running into people and generally causing a disarray. That is, until adults reclaimed the spot by way of three cops and a security guard.

“I’m going home,” one girl told the NYDN, noting there were now too many police at the McDonald’s.

Ah, authority, the constant killjoy.

American teens don’t hang out at malls anymore. They eat at restaurants [Quartz]
Cops, security guard restore order at Brooklyn McDonald’s [New York Daily News]
Hordes of local youths terrorize a Central Brooklyn McDonald’s during lunch hour, yelling, cursing, running wild and vandalizing furniture, workers say [New York Daily News]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.