Erin French, owner and head chef at The Lost Kitchen in Maine, US, had a welcome problem: she was getting too many calls for reservations to her tiny restaurant. Almost as soon as she opened, bookings were steady to this out-of-the-way restaurant that serves local produce and food from her own garden, but the launch of her cookbook saw them become overwhelming.

So she came up with a unique idea.

Instead of making a phone call, reservations could only be made by handwritten notecard. This personal touch was so popular she received over 20,000 requests in the first month.

Bins of notecards at the local post office.

Bins of notecards at the local post office.

Although only a name and address were required, guests sent tiny sketches or watercolours, wrote heartfelt notes about the need for the comforting Lost Kitchen experience during a difficult time, told triumphant stories about successful organ transplants and shared their lives in the most personal and beautiful ways.

“It was so nice to just go the old-fashioned route,” said one customer.

French feels that serving food is an emotional connection to her customers.

“At the start of the day, I think, ‘Alright, here’s who we’re feeding tonight. We have a sense of who these people are before they even come in the door.”

Read the full story here.