Now that I’ve finally hit the long-awaited age of 21, one of my favorite things to do is ask a friend out to dinner. It feels very grown-up to make reservations at some restaurant much too fancy for my below 21-year-old self, impressing whichever lucky peer with the niche, often somewhat themed dining experience they were invited to that night. Personally, I can’t imagine a greater joy (and a greater pit in my stomach than when I receive the bill). However, some restaurants would still consider me too green for service, such as Florissant, Missouri’s Bliss.

Bliss’ History

The restaurant opened back in May of this year, by one Marvin Pate. The food sounds delightful — upscale Caribbean cuisine, cooked by an exclusively Jamaican kitchen staff. However, I wouldn’t be allowed to try it for at least another nine years. The age restriction requires all women guests to be at least 30, while all male guests must be 35 or older.

Pate explains the rule away with appeals towards the older generations. Bliss’ Facebook released a statement that has been relentlessly mocked by other news outlets, stating, “To ensure a grown and sexy atmosphere, we require all guests to be 30 or older for women and 35 or older for men. This policy helps us maintain a sophisticated environment, uphold our standards, and support the sustainability of our unique ambiance.” These stereotypes of young people in the food space are frankly unsurprising, with the popularity of shows like Vanderpump Rules. They just don’t want their sumptuous environment ruined by the likes of a Lala Kent or Stassi Schroeder! (Girls, I’m sorry, I love you.)

My Real Issue With The Rule

Personally, I see little validity in this rule. While I’m sure it won’t change anyone’s minds for a 21 year old to be vouching for other 20-somethings, I truly believe that maturity is not something that necessarily comes with age. As the Housewives series shows us, being in your 30’s doesn’t automatically make you a paragon of wisdom. Likewise, plenty of people in their 20’s are probably more mature than even Pate himself. But it's not my business, so it seems a moot point to argue. I would simply end up waiting the decade or so to attend, or find another restaurant that doesn’t have such odd expectations.

When I look at these age limits, though, I can’t help but think of how much time I would actually have to wait. As a non-binary person, where do I fit into these guidelines? My more liberal friends would tell me that since I identify as more masculine, wait until I’m 35 to be sure. Pate himself, (while not trying to make any undue assumptions towards him) I assume would sort me with my biological sex, allowing me in at 30.

Before any accusations of being a “SJW” come my way, I’m unsurprised these gendered rules would be put in place. The food industry has had an issue with gendering their meals for decades before the language for those outside of a gendered binary even came about. It's not something I think they should change to include non-binary individuals, per se, allowing them in at the arbitrary age of 32. But it brings up the question of why this age restriction is even gendered in the first place. Seeing as Pate is only 36 himself, I can’t help but wonder if ego plays any part.

For those who can attend, the restaurant seems like a wonderful experience. 10/10 reviews have been flooding in for the establishment amidst the backlash. While I may just be bitter about most likely never being able to attend myself, I find myself latching onto the more negative Yelp reviews, claiming the atmosphere as stuffy instead of sexy, the food forgettable. My only suggestion is that if you live in the area and do fit their age requirement, you might as well try it out for yourself and see if this practice really does garner sophistication.