Friday, December 25, 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.

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