Several years ago, my mother gave me a sheet of Forever stamps, possibly as a reminder that she and my dad would like to receive birthday cards or maybe a handwritten thank you note for the stamps themselves. Forever stamps mean that I never have to Google “how much is a stamp” or “what is stamp,” and it’s also how long the ten I still have will remain in my desk drawer.
Well, make that nine.
The Lost Kitchen, a tiny Maine restaurant that has received glowing reviews and near-universal accolades since it opened in 2014, has decided that, this year, it will only accept super-analog, totally offline reservations. There will be no online booking system (although there wasn’t one last year, either) and no phone calls, so if you want to experience its exquisite menu, then you’d better find a pen and see if you have a sheet of Forever stamps, too.
Erin French, the Lost Kitchen’s chef-slash-owner, said that she knew she had to change its reservation policy after last year, when the restaurant received more than 10,000 phone calls in one 24-hour period, and thousands of hopefuls frantically tried to score a table. (According to the Associated Press, there were so many calls that they tied up all three of her phone lines and set off alarms after they somehow managed to block the line for the local fire department, too).
“When we opened TLK in my quiet hometown, my biggest fear was that no one would come,” French wrote on the restaurant’s website. “Never did I imagine that our greatest problem would be that too many people would want to come to this little place in the middle of nowhere. The response from last year’s reservation process made it clear that the request for seats now severely outweighs what we will ever be able to provide.”
As it is now, the restaurant is open four nights a week from May through December, and French only seats 40 people for each night’s dinner serving. Although everyone seems to have given her unsolicited advice on increasing the Kitchen’s capacity ( The New York Times said that one man “Well, actually’ed” her through the mail, sending her a written business plan), she’s sticking with what what works for her, and changing what doesn’t: namely, the reservation process.
If you want to have any chance at having dinner in this particular part of rural Maine, you need to send a 3x5 postcard with your contact information, make sure it’s postmarked somewhere between March 31 and April 10… and then you wait to see if French calls you. Cards will be selected at random from April 11 until every spot for this year has been filled.
“We live in a time where so much of what we want we can get instantly, with a snap of a finger, a click of a button,” French wrote. “Unfortunately, this mode is not sustainable for our little restaurant. Realizing we will never be able to serve everyone who wishes to dine here, to get here will take a bit of energy, a bit of patience, persistence and hope. Come to think of it, every really good thing that has ever happened to me in my life has involved all four of these things.”
So there you go: You just need those four things, one envelope, and one Forever stamp.