Communal tables enhance the convivial, dinner-party atmosphere of The Lost Kitchen restaurant in Freedom. Nicole Franzen/The Lost Kitchen

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the unusual summer reservation system at The Lost Kitchen in Freedom, which instructs diners from all over the world to send in postcards every spring in order to nab a table sometime between May and the end of October.

In each of the past two years, the restaurant received 20,000 postcards by its deadline for the 40 seats that are available each night. The cards were entered into a random drawing, with winners getting the coveted reservations.

Typically, the Lost Kitchen accepts postcards between April 1-15, but this year the process has become open-ended, and “all bets are off,” says Michael Dutton, the restaurant’s executive manager (and chef/owner Erin French’s husband).

People are welcome to send in postcards any time, and the drawing happens when it happens, he said. Right now five buckets full of postcards sit in the couple’s living room – not as many as in previous years, but still enough to book the entire season.

“We don’t have a way yet of knowing when we can officially open up,” Dutton said. “It’s not even worth picking a date until we have some clear understanding of what is permitted and what is safe and what makes sense.”

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