Pizza is one of the best street food in the world, but in Brooksville, a restaurant’s pizza is in such demand that it has instituted a lottery system for people who want to get a reservation to eat it.
Tinder Hearth, which offers creatively topped, wood-fired pizzas, has become a popular foodie destination on the Blue Hill Peninsula. But sometimes, especially during the busy summer months, the popularity of the farmhouse bakery — which was recently named the home of Maine’s best bread by Food & Wine magazine — can feel a bit overwhelming.
Owners Tim Semler and Lydia Moffett were already requiring pizzas to be pre-ordered. This summer, they’re trying something new to hopefully make the ordering protocol a little easier for everyone: a lottery system for those who want to dine on their moist and crispy pizza.
That’s right: there’s a weekly lottery to get that take-out or eat-in pizza.
“Due to extremely high call volume, we now have a callback request system for pizza reservations,” Semler and Moffett wrote last week on their website and social media pages. “Yeah! We want to help you avoid endless redialing, but we still want to talk to you. So how about this: you give us your phone number, and we’ll call you!”
This isn’t the first time a rural Maine restaurant has implemented such a system. The Lost Kitchen in Freedom has been doing this since 2018. That’s when Erin French first instituted a reservation lottery at her famous restaurant after being inundated with phone calls the year before. The restaurant received 10,000 phone calls in 24 hours, overwhelming its three phone lines and causing alarms to go off when Waldo County City Fire Department emergency lines were blocked.
For the past two years, French has used the highly anticipated reservation lottery system to also raise money for local causes. This year, those interested in dining at the restaurant have donated nearly $1 million to an emergency relief fund to help Maine farmers whose land and water have been contaminated by chemicals. said to be eternal.
At Tinder Hearth, pizza hopefuls are only asked to use an online request form to submit their phone number. The form will be open from Monday 9 a.m. to Tuesday 8:30 a.m. After that, starting at 9 a.m. on Tuesdays, the bakery staff will call those who win the lottery for reservations. Winners are encouraged to keep their phone handy and check the restaurant’s weekly menu post on Instagram or Facebook so they can place their order when they get the phone call.
Semler and Moffett ask that people submit only one application per party.
“If a party submits many requests, we will continue to attempt to call you multiple times, wasting everyone’s time,” they wrote. “Please, please don’t. It’s not about outwitting the system, it’s about breaking the system.
If pizza lovers forget to fill out the request form or aren’t called by Tuesday morning, all is not lost. They are encouraged to call in the afternoon of Tuesday to see if there are any openings. The exact time they will accept incoming calls will vary from week to week, but the restaurant’s voicemail will be updated with this information.
Right now, Tinder Hearth is cooking pizza from 4:30-8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. From June 14, the restaurant will be open from Tuesday to Friday.