By Rieva Lesonsky

We all know teenagers who think they’re the center of the universe. If current trends continue, we may have to admit they are. As I reported recently on Fox Small Business, in Taking Stock With Teens, a new study from Piper Jaffray (their 27th semi-annual survey of teen behaviors) shows teens are shopping less and eating more. A lot more.

So much more that, for the first time ever, teens spent more on food than on anything else. This doesn’t mean they’re flocking to your restaurants…yet. Mega-chains like Starbucks and Chipotle are where they’re spending their time and money. But this was also the first time Chipotle was more popular than Taco Bell, which either means teens have a bit more money to spend, or their palates are improving.

If there are a lot of teens in your area, consider how you can get them to come to your restaurant. There are some hints in the study how you might do that; for example, teens are eating more organic food and pasta (that’s my guess after seeing that regional chain Noodles & Company cracked the top five teen choices for restaurants).

You obviously don’t want an increased teen presence to drive your other patrons away, so be careful when promoting to the younger set. Adding free Wi-Fi will likely help attract diners of all ages.

Don’t forget to market via social media. Teens’ favorite platforms are Instagram (another first), which is a great way to show off your menu choices, and Twitter.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+   and and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.