Home » Rich teens are invading ritzy NYC restaurants — and they’re spending big

Rich teens are invading ritzy NYC restaurants — and they’re spending big

by Mahmmod Shar

By Beth Landman

Whatever you do, don’t offer them a kiddie menu.

All over the Hamptons and Manhattan, tweens and teens are going out to posh restaurants on their own. They are running up high checks, ordering uni and steaks — and sometimes trying to sneak in a pricey bottle of vino — then plunking down Mommy and Daddy’s credit card to pay for it.

“All these upper-class kids come in and spend money like there is no tomorrow,” a general manager at a pricey Upper East Side Italian restaurant told The Post.

Lois Freedman, CEO of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s management company, lives on the Upper East Side and said her upscale neighborhood restaurants have been packed with teens.

“When I was young we went for a piece of pizza, but they have been groomed to be more sophisticated diners,” she said. “They order like adults.”

Little big spenders

Out in Southampton, a group of four boys, ranging in age from 12 to 14, came into hot spot 75 Main at 9:30 p.m. on a busy Saturday in August — without an adult in sight.

A waitress who had worked there for 13 years refused to serve them because she thought their check — and her tip — would be low, so another server took the table.

When she brought over kiddie menus, the boys were offended and asked for the adult offerings. Their bill ended up totaling $400, including $65 lamb chops, $56 filet mignon and a $45 king crab roll. They left a $150 tip.

Zach Erdem sitting on a cushioned bench with many pillows.
Zach Erdem, who owns 75 Main, has had teen and tweens come into his restaurant and rack up a big bill — without adults

“The waitress asked if they had made a mistake, and the smallest boy looked her in the eye and said, ‘No; thank you for your service,’ ’’ Zach Erdem, the restaurant’s owner, told The Post. “The waitress who had turned down the table was so mad.’’

Over at longtime favorite Sen in Sag Harbor, owner Jesse Matsuoka is seeing a similar trend, with the younger crowd spending big.

“Nobody is ordering grilled cheese here. They see how their parents come in and spend, and they do the same with their black cards,” Matsuoka told The Post. “They are ordering uni at $18 per piece, and salmon roe, which they pop like candy . . . Kids will have four of them at $8 each.’’

There are no worries when it comes to footing the bill.

At the steakhouse T Bar on East 60th Street in Manhattan, managing partner Derek Axelrod has observed young patrons fighting over the privilege of paying.

Uni sushi nigiri on black background.
At Sen, young patrons think nothing of popping multiple pieces of $18 uni.
Two pieces of salmon roe nigigir on a black plate with chopsticks and shiso leaves.
Salmon roe is popular with the younger crowd at Sen.

“A group of 15-year-olds came in earlier this summer, ordering like crazy in celebration of a girl’s sweet 16,’’ he said. “They had porterhouses and oysters, which you wouldn’t expect kids to order, and the bill was a couple of thousand. When it arrived, everyone tried to grab it. When we looked at the cards, they were all black or platinum Amexes.’’

Underage ‘drinkers’

While restaurant operators say that most young diners are well-behaved, alcohol can become an issue.

James Mallios, owner of Amali on East 60th Street and Calissa in Water Mill, recalled a group of young boys coming into Calissa and trying to get away with ordering a $700 bottle of first-growth Bordeaux.

“It was a slick move on their part because they thought a restaurant wouldn’t want to lose such a big sale, so we would turn a blind eye to the fact that they weren’t of drinking age,” said Mallios. “[But] we are strict about that, though, so we made them produce IDs and then we held onto them.”

Bottle wine being poured into a glass held at an angle a hand and arm.
Restaurateurs says teen diners try to find sneaky ways to get wine.

Erdem once had to confront a group of girls who ordered alcohol, and they became combative.

“They looked like they were about 16, and when I told them they couldn’t order drinks, one of them became very aggressive and I threatened to call the police,’’ he said.

Matsuoka has a special name for poorly behaved young customers.

“We call them ‘rice chuckers’ because they literally have thrown rice to get attention. We tell them they have to leave and we will inform their parents of their actions,” Matsuoka said with a sigh. “Last weekend we had one say, ‘Do you know who my dad is?’ I said, ‘Yes, but do you know who I am? I’m the guy who isn’t going to let you in next time.’’

Cooked T-bone steak in cast iron pan with head of garlic and rosemary at T Bar.
Young patrons are paying for steaks at T Bar with their parents’ black American Express cards.

Parents seem to be encouraging their spawn to develop gourmet tastes early on.

“They are so proud that their kids know the best, and they encourage them to order it,’’ Matsuoka said. “[Recently] we had a wagyu special for $85, and a 5-year-old with his parents said, ‘I want steak!’ and they ordered it for him.’’

‘Rush’ to grow up

But, Ari Fridkis, a psychotherapist who works with many young patients and lives on the Upper West Side and in Bridgehampton on Long Island, said there is a definite downside to such early sophistication.

“These teens show up to my sessions in an Uber with costly boxes of sushi,’’ he said. “Adults aren’t paying attention to what this privilege does to the psyche of young people. It’s rushing development and not allowing them to learn realistic values.’’

Still, the families seem to retain some sense of monetary perspective, according to Fridkis:

“After all this, the parents ask for a discount on their therapy!”

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