Cape Breton restaurant’s 2020 bookings filled up in 1 minute

The owners of a tiny Cape Breton restaurant are reconsidering how they’ll take reservations in the future after their reservations for 2020 were booked up only one minute after opening up online.

The Bite House is located in a century-old farmhouse in Big Baddeck and seats 12 to 16 people, depending on whether the season permits using the porch. It’s open three nights a week from May through December.

For the past few years, bookings have been taken by email only. Reservations for 2020 opened on Sunday night at 8 p.m. AT and reservations for the entire eight-month season were accounted for 60 seconds later.

“We got hundreds and hundreds of emails, probably close to 1,000,” said Chef Bryan Picard. “We’ve been working the past four days just replying to emails non-stop.”

Seats have been snapped up quickly in past years too, but demand has been growing, due in part to glowing praise from top food publications, including Food & Wine listing The Bite House in January 2017 as being one of Canada’s 10 best and uniquely Canadian restaurants.

The Bite House is in a century-old farmhouse and seats 12 to 16 people. (Submitted by The Bite House)

A lot of reservation requests come from Cape Bretoners, but this year Picard also received many from abroad, including the United States and Europe.

Despite the international hype, Picard won’t be making any big changes to the menu, or the physical space. While knocking out a wall to expand the dining room may be tempting, he said that would require hiring more staff, sourcing more ingredients, expanding his fridge space and that might change the experience for guests.

“I think it’s [best to] just keep on doing what we’re doing, and just make sure it’s good every night,” he said.

That said, he will look into switching to an online booking system next year, as sorting through the deluge of emails has become “a bit of a nightmare.”

“It was a bit surprising, but we feel grateful that there’s this much demand for our little restaurant,” said Picard.

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