Saturday, June 10, 2023

The Lost Kitchen

On April 1st, 2019 The Lost Kitchen in Freedom, Maine officially opened its window for reservation postcards. That is correct, you read that right; The Lost Kitchen only accepts postcards to make reservations from April 1st – April 15th.  The postcard must only contain the interested party’s name, address, and phone to be offered a table at the small, quaint restaurant. You must not delineate from the time frame or what you put on your card as you will be disqualified from the process. Although this all seems a little archaic, perhaps even pretentious, the pure creativity of the process is exciting and one that many, many people are willing to participate in.

The Lost Kitchen

Erin French, owner and head chef opened The Lost Kitchen in 2014, building up her customer base slowly. To get an idea of French’s growth, in 2016 for example, she awoke on the first day to twenty-six reservations. After three years of serving exceptional food, it was in 2017 that she awoke on the first several days of April to over ten thousand reservation requests, so many that the local phone system became overloaded. After that, French and her staff decided to convert their reservation system to an analogue, snail mail system and chose their diners at random. You may have thought this would have decreased their reservation numbers, but in fact they increased to a reported twenty thousand postcards in 2018. With the cards and therefore reservations chosen at random, you have as much of a chance as anyone else to take part in this unique experience.

French has worked most of her life in restaurants and most often in Freedom. First in her parents’ diner, also in Freedom, to owning her own establishment, the first Lost Kitchen with her now ex-husband. After a contentious divorce, French was left with practically nothing and moved back to Freedom to her parents’ home front yard in a vintage airstream. It was during this year, the lowest in her life that a friend told her that the old gristmill was for sale. She built her simple kitchen in the lower floor, having her hand in every part of the refurbishment from the vintage china to the barn doors.

The Lost Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Erin French and The Lost Kitchen

The best restaurant in Maine.

On the coast of Maine, French supports an almost all female staff, many of whom play dual roles within the business. One staff member provides fresh cut flowers, another fresh produce. French goes beyond her own staff to support other local farmers and is dedicated to buying organic. From the five-star reviews on Yelp, it seems as though The Lost Kitchen’s customers appreciate the extra attention to detail. One reviewer, Robbie B. had this to say about his experience, “Erin and her welcoming staff serve one masterpiece after another of delectable delights throughout the night. Magical.” Another reviewer simply states, “The best restaurant in Maine.”

I have never been to The Lost Kitchen, but have sent in my reservation postcard in the hopes that I will be one of the lucky ones to dine there. I found myself a charming, vintage postcards proclaiming Happy Easter! to its recipient. The envelope used to send said postcard is a fancy, thick burgundy trifold number I saved from a friend’s wedding invitation, hoping to stand out from the crowd. None of this matter’s in the end, as when the cards are thrown together, everyone has the same odds of being chosen. It seems as though The Lost Kitchen will only grow in popularity and will most likely get more than twenty thousand postcards this year alone. It goes to show that if you build it, no matter where it is, they will come.

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Mary E Harris
Mary E Harris
Betsy Harris is a freelance writer from Rochester, NY writing for several local publications, guest blogging, and web content. She loves food, culture, and traveling and writing all about it.


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