Friday, July 15, 2016

Family-Friendly Fun in Frenchtown

It's such a privilege to be able to provide top-notch service to our guests. As we approach the 7th anniversary since we received the keys to The National Hotel later this month, we are so grateful for the opportunities that have come our way. Those keys did not only open the shuttered doors of The National Hotel; they unlocked a hidden gem within one of the best kept secrets in New Jersey.

Amazing cake created by Stephanie Market Haver
Through our involvement with so many patrons who choose to make The National Hotel a daily part of their lives, we have witnessed friendships blossom, and relationships deepen. This little historic building has its "finger" on the pulse of our quaint and unique Delaware River town. From being nominated as Frenchtown School's "favorite historic spot in town" by its students with a celebratory evening at Frenchtown's beautiful and thoughtful bookstore, The Book Garden--which is an HONOR in and of itself!!!--to receiving the warmth and support of our vibrant community from day one seven years ago that has never wavered, we are in awe of our neighbors and the surrounding communities.

It's going to be such a joy being able to share in the festivities on the 16th! Pete and I hope that you'll carve out time to enjoy the annual Bastille Day family-friendly celebrations on Saturday. From the River Union Stage Puppet Show behind The Book Garden to live music and entertainment on the streets of town, it's sure to be an unforgettable day.

"Local Pogo-Stick Extreme athletes Nik Taylor and Henry Cebalus, students at New Hope Solebury High School, have performed for the Pope in Vatican City, on the Great Wall of China and at the Eiffel Tower in Paris! And now they will be bringing their show to Frenchtown thanks to Village Toy Shoppe!" [frenchtownnj.org] There'll be a "fashion show highlighting its je-ne-sais-quoi couture," a stilt walker, a mime, and so much more. Considering the news recently, it feels so good to be able to celebrate France, to lift spirits, to share life, and to scream loudly, Vive la France!!

At The National Hotel, we're ready to roll out the carpet for you, with weekend Additions to the Menu already posted, where you can catch the "action" while sitting on our front porch and cool off with "THE SUMMER BREEZE" (Stoli Raspberry, Chambord, Fresh Lemon Juice, Splash of Sprite and Club Soda, Lemon Wheel Garnish) and take a respite from the day's activities. The fun will continue through the night. John Sontag will perform live from 9-11 pm in The Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a. The Rat), where the conversation is always lively, and everyone is welcome. And mark your calendars for Sunday's live music performance featuring the return of David Falcone (5-7 pm).

That's the beauty of Frenchtown. It's the human capital--it's the residents who share their lives with each other, who say "hello" to each other on the street, who care for neighbors and who are warm to visitors. now this is a town that has integrity! Join us!!!

Please continue to send me your comments via email or on this blog. I look forward to seeing you soon at The National Hotel. Thank you for your continued patronage.

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

There's No Place Like Frenchtown, From Easter Fun, to Community Involvement, to Fun Nights in Town

[Photo courtesy of Frenchtown Lions Club fb page]
Happy Spring! Yes, it's a little crisp outside, but boy, is it beautiful! Some of our neighbors already had the pleasure of participating in the town's annual Easter Egg Hunt earlier today thanks to the Frenchtown Lions Club! What a treat for all the little kids to experience this small-town event, where everyone comes together. 

It truly is a perfect day to experience Frenchtown's natural beauty, just taking a leisurely stroll (or, OK, you can also take a run or bike ride...why not?!) down the D&R Canal State Park (a.k.a. the tow path) that runs parallel to the Delaware River and is the perfect way to take in the day's beauty. It's where one of our daughters loves to walk our beloved family dog (who turns 11 next week!)
Frenchtown, NJ is not just the location of our business, The National Hotel, but moreover it is the nexus of our lives, where our children grew up strolling through Race and Bridge Streets, exploring Harrison and Trenton Streets, and always welcomed by all of the shops' owners and employees. We hear this all the time when our Restaurant and Bar guests express how the town embraces them each time they come by, and even when they catch our live music in our cellar tavern, The Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a The Rat, The Frenchtown Underground), they always make a point of recognizing its friendly and inviting vibe. 

[Photo courtesy of Gary Reed]
Tonight, our patrons will be able to experience this again, when Mike Chet Beck performs live in The Rat (9-11 pm), while tomorrow we'll feature the return of Gary Reed in our Restaurant and Bar (5-7pm)! This and all of the weekly programs we are able to share with our vibrant community makes us proud to be a part of the fabric of Frenchtown.

Many of our guests will be celebrating Easter Sunday tomorrow and we're so pleased to be the chosen venue to mark this celebration. It is such a great testament to the relationship that our guests have built with the town, with us, and with neighbors from Frenchtown and visitors, whereby The National Hotel's Easter Menu will allow them to enjoy themselves while permitting us to cater to their every need. We are just incredibly honored--and we'll do our best to accommodate you if you still need to make a reservation for tomorrow, but do call soon please (908.996.3200).

It's truly amazing how the many weekly programs that we feature have started simply by a patron asking if he/she could test an idea, and now, for example, Thursday Open Mic Night is in its 6th year! We've got Party Animals Karaoke every week, and this coming Wednesday the 30th, we're hosting a Karaoke Beach Party night! Come dressed for the beach, sing some songs, and stay late into the night to win prizes for best beach outfit (men and women)!

With all the fun to be had that night (and any night in Frenchtown, really!), why worry about driving home. Just contact our friendly concierge to make a reservation for an overnight stay. We even have special packages for mid-week stays!!! Each week there's consistent programs, but we also have some surprises, such as (again) a beloved musician and patron asking if he could play some jazz once or twice a month on a Tuesday night in The Rat. How could we say no? We have Bi-Weekly Tuesday Trivia Night, so this fits in beautifully. Call us at 908.996.3200 if you'd like more information on either of those programs.

And remember, Monday is Locals' Night in The Rat. We learned this week that our House-Made French Fries were declared the winners in Hunterdon Happenings' 2016 Best French Fries competition (thanks to YOUR votes!)--but, since our Restaurant and Bar is closed every Monday, with only The Rat being open, we only serve a liquid diet, so make sure you BYOF (food...friend...fun)! So if you want the award-winning fries, please return Tuesday-Sunday!! 

This bond with our community and our neighbors is exhibited not just in being nominated (and winning thanks to the votes of so many of you) for Hunterdon Happenings Winner of Best French Fries, or in this morning's Easter Egg Hunt, or through the big events that Frenchtown holds (such as Bastille Day in July), but moreover it is often through community service, where area residents come together to help each other and the town. A prime example, and one where you too can get involved is the Frenchtown Park Clean-Up Day on April 16th. Every year, volunteers carve out time to remove debris, clean, and refresh our Frenchtown Park. Please mark your calendar and help if you are able.

Please continue to send me your comments via email or on this blog. I look forward to seeing you soon at The National Hotel. Thank you for your continued patronage.

Please continue to send me your comments via email or on this blog. I look forward to seeing you soon at The National Hotel. Thank you for your continued patronage.

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Friday, February 26, 2016

FEBRUARY HAS TURNED OUT TO BE A SUPER MONTH

We're so proud to be part of the fabric of the Frenchtown community. It's always a rewarding experience to get feedback from guests, and we are so pleased to have a 4-star rating from TripAdvisor!! Even after closing for one week for our annual "re-birth" (in order to make sure we re-do floors, paint, and make the necessary work that ensures an optimal experience for our guests when they enter our historic 19th century building), there is always such good will from the community when we do this, such patience and support, that it buoys our spirits.

We are incredibly grateful to ALL of you who have voted for us in the Hunterdon Happening List for our award-winning French Fries--and if you haven't, there's still time! 
http://hunterdon.happeningmag.com/happeninglist/french-fries-2016/

Our dedicated staff also deserves a lot of praise--that so many of you recognize and share with us--each and every one going above and beyond helping us through the process, and returning to The National Hotel when our doors reopened on Tuesday, full of energy and a desire to exceed all expectations.

Frenchtown itself is like that from my vantage point. Each individual and unique business has established that same spirit driven by a communal goal to provide the best customer service experience to residents and visitors alike. This attention to detail and passion is evident day in and day out. Whether you stop by to experience the beauty of the products and well-designed spaces of Designs by Tranquility; or the thrilling atmosphere of a high-end oil and vinegar shop, Olive with a Twist, that encourages customers to taste the products, to just STOP time and be in the moment expanding one's palate; or walk up the steps of the quintessentially Victorian building that says, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," and "Peter Pan." Walk through its front door to a bevy of rooms intricately organized to include a most delicate collection of books for all ages at The Book Garden. Frenchtown delivers a one-of-a-kind spirit-lifting experience every single day.

It's the townspeople, it's the shops, it's the restaurants, it's the Delaware River...it's all of it. With such close proximity to other river towns, and even to metropolitan cities such as Philadelphia and New York City, Frenchtown offers the opportunity to not just have life, but to enjoy it. From live music 3 nights/week at The National Hotel (Th Open Mic Night, Sat Night Live Music Series, and Sunday Musical Afternoons), to Wed Karaoke Night, and our bi-weekly Tues Trivia Night, you'll have additional motivation to come to Frenchtown and also visit our neighboring river towns in March, during our Restaurant Week, March 20th -24th. Each one has a unique Restaurant Week experience waiting for you.

When you come to Frenchtown, make sure you don't walk down Race Street or Bridge Street in a hurry--there are faces that soon become familiar and there's a joy in greeting each other, and in looking at the store windows, just taking it all in. And of course, there's Harrison and Trenton Streets to shake things up too.

I hope you'll make some time for yourself, carve out a little piece of every day to enjoy our hidden gem, even if just to stroll through town to enjoy a healthy walk or bike ride on the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park (a.k.a. town path). Walking our dog with our daughters now that one is already in college and our youngest will also be off soon, has left an indelible footprint in my mind for which I am forever grateful to Frenchtown.

I hope you too will join me.

Please continue to send me your comments via email or on this blog. I look forward to seeing you soon at The National Hotel. Thank you for your continued patronage.

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Halloween Fun Starting Today including a Paranormal Night on Thursday and an Annual Halloween Party Next Saturday

Have you ever felt like time literally slips through your fingers? How one day becomes one week, and suddenly you are playing catch-up with things? Well, that's the only down-side to life these days, because the flip-side is that life truly is amazing in Frenchtown! There's just so much to do, so many ways to feel connected to the community and be a part of the amazing "fast-casual" and yet, excitingly chic life of our little hidden gem, that sometimes my writing just takes a backseat. Or at least, the writing that I'm willing to post...

So after a long and beautiful summer, the leaves are finally transforming into a museum-quality painting with their beautiful autumn colors. Did you know that when the Hudson River School masters first showed their 19th century landscape paintings in Englad, people there thought the paintings were fake? The colors of the leaves in the UK during the fall foliage season do not turn the myriad colors we see from bright orange and red to even purple. Interestingly, CBS Sunday Morning featured a story about this less than a week ago:
http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/art-show-with-something-old-something-new
As beautiful as the Hudson River area is, I truly see beauty that is unparalleled right here, right in our own backyard by just taking a stroll to the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park (a.k.a. the tow path) that runs parallel to the Delaware River. Some of the photos that have been posted on facebook that are just minutes from Frenchtown are incredible! There are hiking trails, picnic spots, camping sites, and all are open to everyone. What an amazing place to live!
Photo courtesy of Gaetano DeSapio
On a selfish note, we at The National Hotel, have a lot happening this week. From live music featuring Chris Bauer tomorrow from 5-7 pm in our Restaurant and Bar, to the launch of our new fall menu on Tuesday--and to a special homage to our National Wine Club members, by opening up a special selection of our wines to everyone for ONE WEEK ONLY, all at 50% off!!--to a special on-site internet broadcast on Thursday, October 29th (8-10 pm) by Unknown Origins Radio,
where everyone is welcome & invited to come in and share their paranormal experiences, memories, and stories, followed by our Halloween-themed Open Mic Night in The Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a. The Rat), to, of course, our annual Halloween Celebration featuring one of our faves, Rainbow Fresh on Saturday, October 31st! Join us for special drinks and fun starting at 4 pm, with music starting at 9 pm. Prizes for best costumes will be awarded towards the end of the night. These is a Frenchtown tradition now, so make sure to mark your calendars!!



And beyond activities at The National Hotel, Frenchtown itself has tons of activities from a Zombie Crawl in town that kicks off later today, to special events like:


  • The Book Garden’s World Explorers Kids Club that welcomes Laurie Wallmark, author of Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine on October 25th. 
  • Even our local High School (DVRHS) has a special event, when Emmy-winning CNN correspondent and writer, Tom Foreman, makes a special appearance on Tuesday, October 27th, on his run (yes, on foot) from Maryland to NYC to participate in the NYC Marathon in early November. The event is co-sponsored by The Book Garden and the Delaware Valley Education Foundation (DVEF). Ticket admission includes a signed copy of his book and benefits our local HS kids.
  • The events culminate on Friday, October 30th in a Halloween Parade sponsored by the American Legion awarding prizes for best costumes and providing snacks and refreshments!



This is absolute proof-positive that Frenchtown is the center of the universe...in my mind...because we are so accessible from Philly, from Princeton, from NYC, and elsewhere. Just take a look at the reviews from our overnight guests who continue to return, year after year. There's truly something special about Frenchtown. And for those guests, boy do we have special activities planned too...

And of course, thank you to so many of you who continue to join us every week for our weekly activities, including:
  • Open Mic Night every Thursday
  • Karaoke every Wednesday
  • Trivia Night every other Tuesday
  • Saturday Night Live Music in The Rat
We're incredibly grateful also to those of you who have stopped by on Monday nights now that The Rat is open from 5 pm - midnight (drinks only). It's great to have a little time to catch up with friends in a low-stress atmosphere that allows everyone to decompress after the 1st day of the work week has begun: Monday Madness at its best! (And Happy Hour from 5 - 7 pm doesn't hurt either!!)

Please continue to send us your comments via email or on this blog. We look forward to seeing you soon at The National Hotel. Thank you for your continued patronage.

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

'Paris a la Frenchtown' and More During the Month of July!

Photo courtesy of Paul and Jane
June came and went--not a minute to put pen to paper. Even now, as I look back at the incredible pace of last month, I am in awe of our General Manager, Marlon Aranha. He is so loved by our friends in the community; they see his integrity, his honesty, and his immense capacity to make everyone feel welcome at The National Hotel. Whether it's busy at our Restaurant and Bar, or multiple guests arrive to check-in for their overnight stay--all at the same time--Marlon always manages to make sure everyone is well attended. His warm smile and graciousness know no end. As we approach our 6th anniversary of being a part of this historic establishment, we feel blessed beyond words to have been able to enlist Marlon's help from day one and to continue to rely on him to ensure our patrons return time and again.

Photo courtesy of frenchtownnj.org
With Bastille Day (a.k.a. Paris a la Frenchtown) taking place today, Marlon will surely be busy--but it's what he likes. That's when you know you're in the right profession, when you are truly passionate about what you do. When I spoke to Marlon last night, we talked about how lucky we are that the weather reports are saying that it'll be a beautiful day for our visitors and Frenchtown residents alike to walk around town and soak in the town's festivities. Those who stay late will be able to enjoy a "movie under the stars" or can come to The National Hotel to listen to Jeremy, who will perform live in The Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a. The Rat) from 9 - 11 pm tonight. Truly, today is going to be a magnificent day!

We'll be ready to welcome our overnight guests who will be checking in this afternoon too, as well as our Restaurant and Bar patrons, who will be treated to our weekend Additions to the Menu, specially created using the freshest seasonal ingredients:
DRINK
STRAWBERRY BASIL MOJITO
Casa Brava Rum, Muddled Basil & Strawberries, Agave Nectar $9
  
GREENS
HEIRLOOM TOMATO
Mixed Varieties of Heirloom Tomatoes, Spring Mix, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Burrata Cheese, Basil Sorbet  $13

SMALL PLATES
OYSTERS
Malpeque Oysters, Prince Edward Island, Canada – Medium Brine, Light Bodied, Clean finish
Day Boat Blue Point, Long Island – 2” -3” cup, High Salinity, Classic finish
$2.5 each, 6/$13, 12/$25
FRENCH DIP
Slow Roasted Top Round, Thinly Sliced, Horseradish Crème, Served on long roll & Side of Au Jus, Signature House Cut Fries $13

PLATES
FISH
Pan Seared Monk Fish, Served over a Beluga Lentil & Roasted Vegetable Salad (served Cold), Hoison Glaze $20
MEAT
Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Sautéed Broccolini, Purple Sticky Rice, Pear Demi-Glaze $18
PASTA
Spaghetti with Grilled Chicken, Roasted Wild Mushrooms, Sweet Green Peas, Wild Mushroom Crème Sauce $18

DESSERTS
Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake

ASK YOUR SERVER FOR ADDITIONAL DESSERT OPTIONS

Not only will you enjoy these dishes, but if you return to Frenchtown tomorrow, you'll be treated to a return live music performance by Waterfront:Blue, 5 - 7 pm in our main Restaurant and Bar.

And of course, thank you to so many of you who continue to join us every week for our weekly activities, including:

  • Open Mic Night every Thursday
  • Karaoke every Wednesday
  • Trivia Night every other Tuesday
  • Saturday Night Live Music in The Rat
We're incredibly grateful also to those of you who have stopped by on Monday nights now that The Rat is open from 5 pm - midnight (drinks only). It's great to have a little time to catch up with friends in a low-stress atmosphere that allows everyone to decompress after the 1st day of the work week has begun: Monday Madness at its best! (And Happy Hour from 5 - 7 pm doesn't hurt either!!)

Please continue to send us your comments via email or on this blog. We look forward to seeing you soon at The National Hotel. Thank you for your continued patronage.


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Friday, May 22, 2015

Honoring and Remembering This Memorial Day


Memorial Day is upon us and as we fire up those grills or hop in our cars to visit friends and family, Pete and I also want to let you know that The National Hotel will be closed on Monday, May 25th, in honor of all our men and women who sacrificed so much for our freedom. We hope that you will enjoy the long weekend and join us as we take a moment to pay tribute to so many who have died in service to their country.

Our little town has an annual celebration in honor of these men and women, with a parade starting at 10 a.m. Each year, the streets fill with people waving flags, cheering on the veterans marching down the road, and enjoying a parade filled with nostalgia. The end is as meaningful as the beginning, with a low-flying plane dropping flowers above the Frenchtown cemetery.

As we collect our thoughts on the importance of carving time to pay homage to these fallen veterans, Pete and I thought it best to close The Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a. The Rat) this Monday, and we hope you'll understand. We'll reopen for Monday Madness the following week and we hope to see you then. We thank you for your understanding.

May has just been an incredible month of communal cooperation. From patrons stopping by to make
donations for our Nepal Earthquake Relief fundraiser, to even the Frenchtown Business and Professional Association (FBPA) donating to this cause. I'm happy to report that the funds were sent to Nepal, and that the National Hotel matched the gifts collected with its own contribution. I can only thank the two individuals, Lulu Rana-Gupta and Neeru Khadka, who were the genesis for this small grassroots fundraiser, because Neeru is on the ground in Nepal doing all she can to organize, distribute aid, and impact change. Concurrently, our other dear and long-time friend, Lulu, is based locally in NJ and is doing all she can to encourage and motivate friends and businesses to also raise money to send to Nepal and help those in need. And best of all, every single dollar contributed was sent overseas.

This tragedy brought me right back to the 2010 8.8-magnitude earthquake and tsunami in Chile. The human suffering was immense, My cousin, Rolando Ara, and his wife, Fran made their way south to the devastated areas, and together, a doctor and a psychologist, respectively, they raised funds, and distributed aid and first-hand assistance, making a difference in a very personal and significant way. And what about right here, locally? 

How about all the good work that the Frenchtown Angels, including Dawn from Country Chic, Frenchtown Police Chief, Al Kurilka, Officer Paul Murphy from our Frenchtown Police Department, and so many other volunteers, did after SuperStorm Sandy left absolute devastation south of us? Even we at The National Hotel tried to help with those efforts, as well as blocking off some rooms so that our community members whose homes were affected and had no water, could use our facilities and have hot showers. There are countless tales of selfless souls in our area who took in neighbors who lost power and who provided car trips to school for children who had no access to school bus transport with roads blocked or homes damaged during that difficult time. Our vibrant community showed that we care about that single solitary individual and we will do what we can to help him/her, even through personal sacrifice.

It is an honor to live in this community, to be a part of the fabric of Frenchtown, and Pete and I are always grateful that we have been embraced and included. There really is no better place in which to live!

On June 8th, Frenchtown is also holding a blood drive and we hope to see you there. On our end, we have our weekly Saturday Night Live Music series tomorrow, featuring Marc McManus, and Alan Wilcockson on Sunday, May 24th, part of our Sunday Musical Afternoon series. We hope you'll join us this weekend for our weekend Additions to the Menu, some music, and some much deserved pampering by our staff. It's going to be a great weekend together!! Don't forget about the rest of the week's programming, including our weekly Wednesday Karaoke Night, Thursday Open Mic Night, and more!

Please continue to send us your comments via email or on this blog. We look forward to seeing you soon at The National Hotel. Thank you for your continued patronage.

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