Monday, July 31, 2017


Grateful. It's the word that comes to mind. EIGHT YEARS AGO TODAY, with fresh keys in hand after all the legal and financial meetings to make the purchase of The National Hotel a reality, we stand hand-in-hand not only with our daughters (now in college), but with the Frenchtown community.

July 2009, shuttered
Our lives have become immensely intertwined and joyfully transformed. And The National Hotel--the edifice itself--appears to have taken on new life, breathing, singing, embracing. This is a complete metamorphosis from how we found the building, shuttered for nearly 18 months, with renovations that awaited us, and challenges we had no idea we'd have to face.

It's trite, but honest: We had, and continue to have, a love affair with this grand old establishment. Every step of the way, every room that had to be renovated, refurbished, and restored, was just another chapter in the lives we were building that would include each of us. In a small way or in a big way, our daughters, Pete, and I, along with so many friends and friends-yet-to-be-made in and around Frenchtown, contributed to the business we are proud to call our home away from home, in the very best little gem of a town anywhere in the world.

Turning the corner onto Race Street from
Route 12 during Gay Pride month
Every time we drive down Route 12 into Frenchtown, with the beautiful vistas of Pennsylvania across and behind Frenchtown, we remark at the beauty of this part of the world. "People pay money to vacation where we call home," Pete has often remarked to me. True. Simply true.

Today, we have new programs and events to announce. Remember to get up-to-the-minute information by liking our facebook page. Stay tuned for more information on our upcoming evenings that will be filled with music, but for now, please mark your calendars with the following:

  • Tuesday: Bi-Weekly Trivia continues in The Rat on August 8th, 8 - 10pm
  • Wednesday:
    • Announcing half-priced appetizers and drinks will now be available in BOTH our bars (upstairs and in The Rat): 4 - 7pm
    • Karaoke in The Rat: 8pm - midnight
  • Thursday: 
  • Friday: Spotlight Friday Music Series launch!! 
    • August 4th: Join Mike Wojk and his Trio of Madness starts 
  • Saturday:
    • Prix-fixe BRUNCH: 10am - 1pm
    • Saturday Night Live Music series: August 5th--Scofflaw with Mojo Creeksnake and Jesse Ketchel
  • Sunday:

Eight years later, we have learned the ebb and flow of life near the Delaware River, always with the support of our Frenchtown community. From bringing music back into the building, to adding new programming to engender that sense of community that is inexplicable in so many other towns and cities, it has always been the Frenchtown residents and the surrounding communities who have come to our aid and who have buoyed our spirits. THANK YOU!

As always, please continue to email us with your feedback, leave a comment on this blog, and stay up-to-date with everything being planned, by checking our website, calling us at 908.996.3200 or: 

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 Thank you again for your continued support and patronage.

Friday, February 10, 2017


Before I could even acknowledge the New Year, I see March already ready to run away with the end of February. The pages on our calendars turn much too fast these days. I suppose the older I get the more I will find myself trying to hold onto just a few more minutes from the present. Living in the present, securely embracing the moment--each moment--is my goal for 2017. There are so many wonderful neighbors that Pete and I have had the privilege of getting to know in Frenchtown; so many new faces that have already become frequent guests this month; so many things for which to be grateful.

It's in this spirit that Pete and I are pleased to announce our 4th annual Valentine's Day Contest, with three (3) great prizes to be awarded:
  1. one overnight stay at The National Hotel for two;
  2. dinner for two in The National Hotel's Restaurant and Bar;
  3. dessert and after-dinner drinks for two in The National Hotel's Restaurant and Bar.
So what do YOU have to do? Simple. Send us a 250-word minimum/400-word maximum essay about the most meaningfully romantic moment of your relationship, and why you think your particular story is relevant to Frenchtown, NJ or any of the surrounding Hunterdon County, NJ or Bucks County, PA areas. Deadline for submission is Monday, February 13th, and winners will be announced on February 14th on our facebook page.

Historic photo of original backyard of
The National Hotel, provided by a
descendant of the Apgar family.
There is so much history and natural beauty in our little corner of the world, with the Delaware River providing countless poems and art renderings, to the sheer romance of establishments such as The National Hotel, that has provided comfort to so many throughout its long history. And to us, Valentine's Day provides us with the opportunity to showcase the exquisite labor of love by our executive chef, Geoffrey Thomas. Our Valentine's Day menu that is available all weekend starting tonight, is a testament to his passion:

Of course, between the live music this weekend featuring Jimmy Garabo on Saturday (9-11pm) and Gary Reed on Sunday (5-7pm), you just can't go wrong with making Frenchtown your Valentine's Day/Valentine's Weekend destination!

Don't forget to make your reservations NOW so you can properly plan that special person in your life. Better yet, contact us via email or at 908.996.3200 and make it a getaway or a staycation, with our Valentine's Day exclusive overnight packages. You will not be disappointed. Our knowledgeable General Manager, Marlon Aranha, will take care of every detail. With enough lead time, he could even schedule an appointment for massage sessions at Euphoria Studio, designed exclusively for our overnight guests, just a short stroll from The National Hotel.

Our programs don't stop there, because we will have a post-Valentine's Day special Karaoke celebration on the 15th of February. FUN, all in caps!! Remember to join us for our weekly Thursday Open Mic Night in The Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a. The Rat), and every other Tuesday, catch our Bi-Weekly Trivia, but not February 21st, because we will be closed for our annual building re-fresh. This is when we close our doors for one week and do all the work that needs to happen to continue our high standards to better serve you when we reopen on February 28th. 

Frenchtown provides so many choices, all unique, all sure to be memories you will long treasure. We hope to welcome you to The National Hotel in the very near future. And if you agree with us and have a little bit of time, please take a minute to vote for us in this year's Hunterdon Happenings List--just vote one time per email address in any (or all) of the categories listed below--and THANK YOU in advance for your help in sharing how much you care about The National Hotel:
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, 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!" [] 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 (! 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


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!

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'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:
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 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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