Teens’ Top 5 Restaurant Chains


Teens are trendsetters. They are typically early to the next big thing and most of their spending is discretionary, making them a lucrative demographic to study.

That’s why it’s important to know which restaurant chains the teens are currently vibing with, as the most lit concepts will likely continue to slay—no cap. Or, in other words, teens’ favorite chains could serve as a valuable indicator of broad appeal and staying power.

Luckily, Piper Sandler recently published its 46th semi-annual survey of nearly 9,200 U.S. teens aged 19 and under, called Taking Stock With Teens.

Here are teens’ top five favorite restaurant chains, based on the report:

 1) Chick-fil-A (16%)

 Chick-fil-A reigns supreme among the teens once again, holding on to the top spot for the fifth survey in a row and capturing 16% of their “mindshare.”

It’s no surprise that Chick-fil-A is the GOAT (that’s “greatest of all time” in young people speak), as the brand is the highest-grossing fast-food chain in the U.S. With only 2,837 stores—roughly a quarter of the footprint McDonald’s has—Chick-fil-A generated $18.8 billion in U.S. systemwide sales last year.

2) Starbucks (13%)

Teens are chronically online, and Starbucks has faced unprecedented demand over the last several years fueled by digital growth. In 2022, the ubiquitous coffee giant opened more locations than any other restaurant in the U.S.—a net of 429 total. Starbucks has 13% mindshare among all teens, gaining slightly among upper-income teens, and pointing to a strong grasp on teen consumer trends.

3) McDonald’s (9%)

McDonald’s traded places with Chipotle for the number three position, shuffling the Mexican Grill down to number four. The golden arches captured 9% mindshare among all teens and continues to be the most preferred chain in the hamburger category. According to the report, McDonald’s increased popularity among teens may reflect the potential recession— “especially when considering it gained share from Chipotle who raised prices 8% on average in 2022.”

4) Chipotle (8%)

Although Chipotle dropped to the fourth spot among all teens with 8% mindshare, the brand remains in the number three position among upper-income teens. The dip in overall popularity could be linked to Chipotle’s aforementioned price increases that took place over the last year, as teens are not immune to inflationary concerns. Case in point, 9% of teens cited inflation as their top social cause in the same survey.

5) Raising Cane’s (3%)

This year marks Raising Cane’s first appearance in the top five with 3% mindshare. The fast-casual chicken fingers chain bumped Dunkin’ from the fifth spot, demonstrating the brand’s expanding appeal. In fact, raising Cane’s has tripled its systemwide sales over the last five years to become one of the fastest-growing chains in the U.S.