Teens Have Few Places to Eat Out in Pacific Palisades


The Garden Cafe on Antioch is a popular spot for teens because the food is good and affordable.


There’s a saying: If you’re rich, you live in Beverly Hills. If you’re famous, you live in Malibu. If you’re lucky, you live in Pacific Palisades.

As someone who grew up in the Palisades, I didn’t really feel lucky every time I want to go out for lunch.

Let’s not mince words – the Palisades is an expensive place to live, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is the price of some of its eateries.

Inflation seems to be a problem that affects everywhere as well as Pacific Palisades, but the difference in price between a meal here and in Santa Monica, which is just a few miles away, is staggering.

A bowl of ramen at Silverlake on the Promenade is $14-15, which is a lot, but a Palisades establishment will sell it for $16-18.

Teens, of which hundreds pour into the village after school each day, always go to one of four places: Starbucks, Garden Cafe, Chipotle and the food trucks by Ralph’s. Everywhere else is far too expensive for the average teen.

Yet, it seems that no business wants to enter this market.  Rather businesses continue to focus on the upper end such as Sweet Laurel, which has an activated charcoal latte ($8) and at Erewhon, where there is “activated coffee ($9), a golden latte ($11) or an activated smoothie, which has almond milk, cold brew and collagen ($18).

It’s possible the high prices might have something to do with the Palisades’ high turnover of businesses. There are numerous empty store fronts. I saw a single building on Via de la Paz change ownership five times in three months –  every time the business was selling something one could get from Garden for cheaper, or something that only appealed to an older clientele.

I’m not saying it’s the sole reason, but if you were to open a McDonald’s selling Big Macs for $5 or open any reasonably-priced café, I’m willing to bet that lines of teens would go out the door, and Garden Cafe would see a huge decline in patrons.

Beck Carlson, a junior at Pali High, thinks about how the town changed. “The biggest problem was Carusoville,” he said. “There used to be a ton of affordable places, and they were replaced with designer stores that nobody wants to buy from.

“They need to bring back places where people can actually buy, instead of $30 steak places,” Carlson said. While Carlson’s words are blunt, his message is clear. (Editor’s note: The 16-oz. ribeye at The Draycott is $70 and the New York Steak at Hanks is $48.)

How do we fix this?

The easiest answer is to add more cheap places. The wrinkle is where?

A common reason most places go out of business is the exorbitant rent. Lowering that would allow places to sell less expensive food and stay in business, such as Cathay Palisades, the sole Chinese eatery, which lost its lease last month, and is now out of business.

Affordable food is always a great addition to any town. There are thousand kids at Palisades High School, and maybe at least another thousand teens that live here and attend private schools. It’s strange no one has thought to tap into that market, yet.

We have money that we could spend on eating places–if we could afford it.

Cathay Palisades owner David Leung lost his lease and closed his restaurant.

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7 Responses to Teens Have Few Places to Eat Out in Pacific Palisades

  1. Betsy Handler says:

    It’s not going to happen. Beck Carlson is right. There used to be Mort’s
    A la Tarte, and Mayberry to name a few. Carusoville helped destroy it all. Caruso will never lower rents – he wants very high-end stores, even if they are mostly empty. The Palisades has changed (for the worst), and, unfortunately, there’s no going back.

  2. Victor says:

    Perhaps it is better if the teens pour into buses or their cars and go home instead of pouring into the village.

    Carusoville is shrewdly designed not to appeal to teens. It is designed to appeal to the people who will live in the Palisades in the next several years, when its isolated and reasonably idyllic location will continue to stimulate demand for houses and drive prices higher, so that only highly compensated younger professionals, executives and entertainment types can afford to live here and will want to shop at the overpriced, hip Carusoville stores and restaurants. Caruso just needs to hold out long enough for the demographic change in the Palisades to be completed. The other retail and restaurant locations in the Palisades will follow suit. All others need not bother.

  3. Trina says:

    You are so right on every single point. How many, for example, ice cream cones, do you have to sell in order to pay your rent, employees, food cost, insurance, etc. Sometimes landlords are so short sighted. Caruso is not looking for the teenage business, he is looking for the couple that just paid 6 million for a tear down. My hope is that Carusoville is a great success and all do well, but it is nowhere I can shop

  4. Steve says:

    I may be mistaken, but I don’t recall any inexpensive places to eat that had to close because Caruso demolished the old buildings. And I’ve never seen teens at Cathay Palisades so that doesn’t impact them. And what about Kay & Dave’s? Why don’t they try that? Maybe some enterprising teen should contact a favorite food truck and encourage them to park in town like Gracias Senor. Heck, park it next to the library. They can read and eat inexpensive food truck meals.

  5. anon says:


  6. Mo McGee says:

    Couldn’t agree more.

  7. 'joy' says:

    I agree 100%. I can’t see dropping $50 for 2 … breakfast, lunch…and dinner? I’d rather donate the $120 it cost unless it’s a special occasion. From the beginning of the whole Carusoville, it seemed to me to be a losing proposition. Remember at the outset they were going to have a pet shop that sold upscale dog clothes? Ludicrous. We cannot be a ‘destination’ site. We have one road, Sunset Blvd., into a small, enclosed business area where even folks in the Palisades can’t afford to window shop very often. There is highly limited parking and nowhere to really hang out, regardless of your age. A couple of benches does not work! To me, admittedly a non-financial advisor, it seemed like a lose-lose situation from the git-go. Without foot traffic, which reasonably priced eateries provide, there’s no great windfall $$ucce$$ in the future, either. To shop locally, there needs to be the ability to bond, relax, enjoy possible purchases from window shopping & feel welcomed for the clients. Ah, for a Mort’s where, to paraphrase, …’everyone knew your name…’ and you could have a meeting for a reasonable price.

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