At two o'clock in the morning, McDonald's on Hing Yip street opposite APM in Kwun Tong is filled with people. The bright lights from the fast food restaurant illuminate the quiet street corner. On the second floor, clusters of night owls fill the restaurant with chatter and excitement. Fong Yum-cha, an applied biology student at the City University of Hong Kong, sits hunched over his notes at one of the tables. 'It's relaxing here,' he says. 'I can't study at home. There are too many distractions. If I was home now, I'm pretty sure I would be lazing on the couch, watching TV.' With public study rooms full of Form Five and Seven students, the restaurant provides an ideal place for the Year One student to prepare for his exams. 'It's hard to find a seat in the study room in the public library near my home during exam season. They draw lots to decide who gets a place and Form Five and Seven students have priority over us,' said Yum-cha. The cheerful, relaxed atmosphere at McDonald's also provides welcome respite from the stiff silence of study rooms. 'You can't talk or eat in libraries, but here we can chat over food and drinks,' said Gigi Lam, a Form Seven student who goes to McDonald's to study and discuss projects with her classmates. 'Internet cafes close early and waiters give us strange looks if we stay there for a long time without ordering a lot of food.' To cater to the city's 24/7 lifestyle, more and more eateries are staying open until the small hours. Last year, McDonald's expanded its 24-hour service to hotspots across the city. The chain has more than 200 outlets in Hong Kong, 55 of which operate around the clock. The restaurants have also become a hangout for late-night gamers. Groups of four young gamers sit at tables, clutching sleek consoles with their eyes fixed on the screens. Jeff Fan and Ah Chun, known as 'McGamers', enjoy playing on their Nintendo DSs together. 'We like playing video games here,' say the two 21-year-olds. 'It's clean and convenient and we can take shelter from the sweltering heat outside. We can stay here for however long we want.' Both Jeff and Ah Chun work in the estate management sector. Most restaurants frown upon customers occupying tables when they are not eating or drinking, but McDonald's isn't concerned. 'Customers are welcome to visit McDonald's anytime at their convenience,' said a spokesperson. 'So far, we haven't received any complaints regarding customers staying in the restaurant for a long time.' Youth workers also don't see the trend as a problem, as a restaurant is a safer place to hang out than other popular spots. 'Young people need to have a place to socialise with their peers,' said Leung Lai-yee, assistant professor of the department of social work at Hong Kong Baptist University. 'Many of them hang out on the street late at night, where they easily run into triads. Unlike at billiard lounges and gaming centres, McDonald's is a safe environment where everything is conducted in full view of others.'