Friday, December 25, 2009

CLOSING OUT 2009



It's unbelievable how quickly the days pass by. It seems like just a minute ago, we were preparing for Thanksgiving. Even Christmas has come & gone, as we now prepare for New Year's Eve. And yet, there's so much that has happened since we opened the doors to The National Hotel, that it's important for us (on a very personal level), to stop, think and take in every little thing and every big moment before we cross the threshold and start 2010. Yes, 2010!!!

So very briefly, here's my own, "focus group of one" assessment of The D'Costa family venture:

After months of seeing The National Hotel closed, shuttered--overnight it seemed--Pete and I decided that we would place a call to the real estate broker whose name appeared on a sign outside the very sad-looking building. Steve Darlington of Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors called us back right away, and explained the situation. After months of negotiations, with a period of time passing when we thought we were completely "out of the running," we received a follow-up call from Steve, who asked if we were still interested. Of course we were! And as quickly as it took to have that last phone call, it seems that the days passed just as fast during the early summer months, and on
July 31st, we were given the keys to The National Hotel.

Then came the grunt work--often in the dark, as we had no electricity for some time after New Jersey was pounded by severe storms that caused power outages throughout the area. JCP&L needed to restore service to existing clients before they would activate new accounts. That was an interesting, challenging, and most demanding time! Renovating in the dark (& with no water to boot, as that's a whole other story with getting that turned on), definitely delayed our opening day.

But opening day did happen, and on November 3rd, Election Day, we very quietly opened our doors and let our Frenchtown neighbors who were passing by, driving by, some going places, some going to vote, stop by to find out that yes, finally, The National Hotel was open for business.

The joy, the warmth, the absolute and unconditional support that the Frenchtown community had extended to us in the months while we renovated and prepared the building to be a business of which Frenchtown could be proud, made it all worthwhile. This new and wonderful extension of our family to the community, has permeated every aspect of our lives. From our two wonderful and very independent daughters who have weathered the highs and the lows of opening such an ambitious undertaking, and who have been our finest ambassadors in the community--they would leave us to continue to make progress on the building, while they walked throughout the town, visited the local shops, bought gifts, treats, etc., and just thoroughly enjoyed their afternoons in Frenchtown--to our friends who have given us of their time, their energy, their help on so many levels, to our own families, who have pitched in and raised their shirt sleeves to help in numerous ways...we have so much for which to be thankful.

And now it's not just Frenchtown, but all of the surrounding areas, whose residents frequent our establishment. There are customers from Clinton, Pittstown, Franklin Township, Flemington, Milford, Lambertville, and on and on. Our hotel guests have come from nearby towns, to New York City and the Washington DC area, to as far as California.

The latter is just one of the many reasons why this last Christmas will forever be in our minds as one of the most special holidays that we have had. The D'Costa family started a new tradition: Christmas Eve at The National Hotel. Pete and I were able to work, while my mom visited and spent time with our girls.
Isn't it glorious to be able to have the support of one's family? And what could be better than a grandmother to cater to your every need?! Last night we had a customer, Herb, who very astutely pointed out that a parent's responsibility is to say "no" to children, while a grandparent's privilege is to say "yes." He said it much better than I'm recounting, but he was so right!

And here we are now, approaching New Year's Eve. The preparations are well underway. We even have a special menu that Ron Rittenhouse, our executive chef, has been developing for weeks now, and which we are sure will be a hit. How exciting, just to think about the New Year coming and all the possibilities it brings.

May all of you who are reading this, have an absolutely fabulous New Year's. Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2010.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

MUSICAL AFTERNOON KICK OFF


We had an unbelievable Sunday a week and a half ago, enjoying the music of The Jericho Mountain Grass musical ensemble, which blended traditional ballads with new-grass tunes. The Grass consists of Carl Klinger on madoline, Toby Hoffman on banjo, Peter Kane on fiddle, John Stetson on bass and John Gehman on guitar.

It was standing room only at one point in the afternoon! We had all the seats filled, the tables spilling over with food and drinks, and people still kept coming in. Luckily, we featured The Grass in our downstairs Rathskeller Pub (The Rat) lounge, which allowed people to have more freedom of movement to enjoy the live musical performance, while having food and drinks--and those who came to The Rat to watch the football game were still able to do so in the bar area, since the music was in a separate space.

We had guests who came from an hour away to enjoy a musical afternoon at The National Hotel, and to see The Grass. What a day!!! Pete and I were just bowled over by the depth of the musicians' repertoire and ability to engage with the audience. It was truly a wonderful way to launch our musical afternoons at The National Hotel.

Did any of you catch The Grass at our place? Did you like it? Should we have done anything differently? We want to keep the music running at The National Hotel and if you have suggestions, we are always open to hearing them. Thank you for your support and we hope to see you at The National Hotel when we feature another musical group in the very near future.
video

Thursday, December 3, 2009

ONE MONTH OPEN AND MUSIC KICKS OFF THIS SUNDAY

We made it past the 1st month of being open!!!

Last month's photo:


I'll take some photos tomorrow to post them on the blog, so you can see the difference in how the building looks now. And this weekend, we are lucky to have The Jericho Grass featuring the “High and Lonesome” sounds of blue and new grass, playing at The Rathskeller Pub on Sunday December 6 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The Jericho Grass blends traditional ballads and new-grass tunes. The Grass consists of Carl Klingler on mandolin, Toby Hoffman on banjo, Pete Kane on fiddle, John Stetson on bass and John Gehman on guitar.

The Grass is returning to Frenchtown after playing for the past four summers at the Stockton Inn. The Grass has played throughout Hunterdon and Bucks County, PA since 1980 from venues as various as the Tinicum Arts Festival and Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve to The Inn at the Hawk in Lambertville and The Bridge Café in Frenchtown.

"We're thrilled to be playing at the reopened National Hotel in Frenchtown," stated Carl Klingler, mandolinist. Please join us on December 6th downstairs in the Rathskeller Pub to welcome the Jericho Grass. Click here for more information, or call contact Toby Hoffman, at 1.215.794.7671.

We hope to see you there on Sunday! Let us know if you are interested in performing in the future. We have received a lot of inquiries and would love to add you to the list of performers with whom we may be able to work in the future. This is just the start...we can't wait for what will come!

In these short weeks, so much has happened that I'm glad I've written many of the things down on this blog, because the stories keep coming. But even the little things, such as the outside touches to the beautiful building, the Halloween decorations that have now come and gone--and the new Holiday decorations and lights we've put on the building are touches that we feel are an add-on to an already gorgeous building.

Many of you have celebrated with us, and we couldn't be happier. It's been 4 weeks of meeting people, sharing stories, celebrating milestones--from birthdays to "We met right here and now we're married"--a compilation of which would create a wonderful book of short stories about how truly interwoven the history of The National Hotel is with the townspeople of Frenchtown and the surrounding areas.

One month and two days...but who's counting?