Thursday, December 30, 2010


We are so fortunate to be able to close out the very first decade of this new millenium by celebrating in style!  A dance party no less!!!  Well, why not?!  There are so many wonderful things happening at The National Hotel--and most of them thanks to our loyal patrons--that Pete and I are just bursting at the seams with pride at being able to have this wonderful connection with our community.  From our weekly Wednesday, By The Fireplace singer/songwriter series, to our Thursday Open Mic Night, to our monthly 3rd Sunday People's Poetry, to our Saturday Night Live Music sessions, and our weekly Sunday Musical Afternoon series...oh, but wait...there's more:  We just launched our Tuesday Trivia Night!!!  And what a success that was!  Thanks to our General Manager, Marlon Aranha, and our dedicated patron, Russ Coen, we are now, THE place to be on Tuesday night. 

[Marlon Aranha]

It was a wonderful way to close out this last week in 2010, inviting everyone present to put their thinking caps on and participate in this fantastic night.  That along with tonight's Open Mic Night (now in session!!), and tomorrow night's dance party with DJ Mr. Wil, are sure to make us all look forward to an even better 2011.

If ever there was a need to say thank you, it is right now.  Pete and I have definitely put our hearts and souls ( trite...but it's absolutely true) into The National Hotel.  But so has this grand old building reciprocated a thousand times over.  There isn't a day that Pete doesn't come home after closing up, that he doesn't share stories about our patrons--from jokes they tell, to the history they share, to the fun they have.  And there hasn't been a moment when I have been there, that I don't encounter someone who brightens my day with conversation, moments shared, memories recalled.

Our daughters are blessed to also be a part of this establishment, as everything that we build will eventually be theirs.  And they LOVE being there.  It's such a joy to see them interact with our staff, kid around, feel at home, and all the while still understand that it's the customers who are at the center of this business.  Our girls come with us shopping for the best quality ingredients, listen to our conversations and planning of future events, and have participated in creating a kids' menu that's sure to please...actually...truth be told, they created the menu.  The credit goes to them.

And our other "grown-up" menu, has surpassed all of our expectations, thanks to our executive chef, Lisa Frederick, who took the reins several months ago, and has not disappointed.  In fact, she has brought her love of exotic cuisines and seasonings to complement our vision of a Restaurant that incorporates Pete's Indian background and my Chilean and Spanish heritage.  The dishes that come out of our kitchen are exceptional!  OK, I know this is a subjective comment, but we've had sooooo many hotel and dinner guests tell us how much they've enjoyed their meal, that I am confident in sharing this comment as an "objective" viewpoint.  I hope that when you visit us next, you too will walk away with this same feeling.  Be sure to say "hi" to Lisa when you are there, as she is the most gracious chef I've ever had the pleasure with whom to work.

And it's not just Lisa.  Let's not forget Kasey Goyette, our lead bartender, who without fail, produces the most incredible drinks, pairs wines for our dining guests who would like to have a professional's opinion on what wine will best bring out the flavors of their dining choices, and who livens up our Bar area with wonderful and engaging conversation, all the while keeping her eye on what her regular customers like to drink.  She is a consummate professional and we are so pleased to count her as part of our family.

But many of our guests who dine upstairs finish their evenings at The National Hotel's Rathskeller Pub downstairs, affectionately known as The Rat.  And that experience would not be complete without a drink served by Donna Jane Sampler.  She truly has become someone on whom we rely, and who consistently provides our patrons with a comfortable atmosphere where they can not only get the drink of their choice, but also close out the night with a friendly face and a conversationalist that keeps them coming back.  Yay Donna!

And like Donna, Kasey, and Lisa, we are so fortunate to be surrounded by individuals who work for The National Hotel and who come in with smiles, with a positive attitude, ready to serve, ready to provide the patrons with their very best service, and ready and committed to make tonight the best night ever.  You can always find information about us by posting a comment on this blogpost, following us on Twitter, friending (is that a real word???) us on facebook, subscribing to our YouTube channel, or emailing us directly at  Thank you once again for your support and the wonderful embrace you have given us since the very day we were given the keys to The National Hotel.

So to you, your families, and your friends, Pete and I want to wish you the very best New Year's ever.  May 2011 grant you much happiness, health, and continued success in all your endeavors.  Happy, Happy New Year!!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Our staff still remains optimistic, upbeat, and now...excited about our re-opening.  It's been an incredibly challenging 7 days.  As many of you know, our boiler broke.  It could not have happened at a worst time of the year.  We had to cancel reservations (dinner and hotel), take emergency measures to prevent pipes from freezing, search for a crew that could handle the work that would ensue, order the replacement boiler, etc.  Day after day, we're asked, when will you reopen?  And day after day so far, we've had to impose on our patrons to be patient, because we're working at a feverish pace to try to get this resolved.  The Hunterdon Democrat just wrote an piece on the situation we're facing, and we're grateful to them for covering this story:

Finally, there's light at the end of the tunnel...the new boiler is installed, and if all goes well with the testing the crew has been doing, we just might be open later today.  We'll keep posting updates on our facebook page and send tweets about when our doors will reopen.  And here again is where the Frenchtown resilient spirit surfaces again:  instead of anger and frustration by our patrons and clients who have been thoroughly disappointed by not being able to enjoy our numerous programs, including our Wednesday singer/songwriter series, By The Fireside, our Thursday Open Mic Night Frenchtown Underground, our Saturday Night Live Music Series, our Sunday People's Poetry, or even our Sunday Musical Afternoon music series...what we've heard back is just pure words of encouragement, sentiments of sympathy and empathy.  After all, Frenchtown has suffered from floods, from road closings, and numerous other events that have forced businesses to close in years past.  And perhaps that's what makes this town's residents all the more endearing to Pete and to me.  They never cease to amaze me.

From day ONE, we received an outpouring of love and support from the Frenchtown community and the surrounding area.  We are truly grateful.  And with the holiday season upon us, it truly feels like a magical time.  And we going to open our doors in style, officially introducing our executive chef, Lisa Frederick, who has been captain of this ship for several months now, preparing exciting dishes for our Additions to the Menu on the weekends, and working hand-in-hand with us to update our last menu to include seasonal items from sustainable farmers.  I hope you'll make the time to come and say hi to us, and to congratulate Lisa on her new (OK, not so new now...) role at The National Hotel.  She, Marlon, our General Manager, and Kasey, our Lead Bartender, along with everyone at The National Hotel, can't wait to see you and say hello.

Post a comment here if you have any feedback you'd like to share, or as always, feel free to email me at  I look forward to hearing from you.  Happy Holidays to all our friends!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thanksgiving Kicks Off the Holiday Season...and now it's December!

The night before Thanksgiving, we were treated to a FANTASTIC performance by Rainbow Fresh, who helped us get into the right frame of mind for the next day's feast.

Thanksgiving was such a treat, spending time with family and friends.  And then:  Black's ominous, it's "a must" for many of us, what with the holidays just weeks away...did anyone of you get up at 4:30 (or earlier) to catch some of the local shops' sales?  Oh yes, this was big, from Walmart to Lowes to Kohls and all the other local mass chain stores and the online sites offering "early" Black Friday specials.  All I can say, is that it is so refreshing to actually walk around our little gem of a town, Frenchtown, with all of the beautiful and unique shops, that absolutely SCREAM, "come in, browse, peruse, touch, feel...take your time...ask me questions about any item you like."  That's the beauty about our little corner of the world.  Frenchtown shops are one-of-a-kind, friendly and inviting.  Every single one has its own charm and personality, but moreover, Frenchtown business owners absolutely love the vibe of the town. captured this vibe perfectly, in a recent e-article they featured in their publication:

Frenchtown: Eat, Shop, Stay

December 6, 2010

Tiny, charming, and teeming with unique, home grown gift stores-a visit to Frenchtown might just help you fill out your Christmas list with one-of-a-kind presents. frenchtown4hotel

frenchtown2downtownYou don't have to walk far in the cold, most shops are concentrated in a few blocks near the bridge over the Delaware.

Start off in Alchemy, specializing in eclectic fashions and accessories, you'll find scarves, hats, gloves and handmade jewelry from artists and organic designers.

Pick up a hostess gift at The Studio, or Thistle, with home furnishings, and American-inspired candles and artwork.

Remember the days before e-mail and iPads? The art of writing by hand and reading by turning the real pages? Try Beasley's Bookbindery to outfit an office with classy stationary and desk sets.

A bit off the beaten path is Two Buttons, the warehouse of exotic imported goods owned by Eat Pray Love Author Elizabeth Gilbert and her real-life husband. Or pop into Grouse Studios this weekend, for holiday shopping and a open house that showcases local artists, handpainted furniture, and antiques.

Plenty more are listed on the town's helpful website.

When you want to come up for air, take a break at the bar of the newly rescued historic National Hotel. The place is owned by an engaging couple who transplanted here from New York City post-9/11, and renovated the boarded up hotel into a cool local hotspot. There are drinks upstairs and down, live music, and food. Bonus: book a room afterwards and avoid driving the back roads home.


Thank you to the editor and the staff writers at for this wonderful article.  What a fantastic publication, always full of information on things to do throughout New Jersey.  If you have a moment, check out their website and subscribe to their online publication, or find them on facebook.

From the spontaneous and impromptu conversations I've had with many of these business proprietors, I've learned how passionate they feel about Frenchtown itself, and about the arts.  Many of them belong to the Frenchtown Business & Professional Association (FBPA), and they dedicate much of their time thinking of ways to make the town an inviting and engaging destination for those visiting as well as our local residents.

There isn't a single shop that doesn't recognize the aritistic influence ever-present in our little town.  And what's more, it drives us all, because we recognize that our patrons, whether they be out-of-town tourists, or local residents, are all looking for the same thing:  meaning.  Yes, meaning.  It's at the core of every single business in Frenchtown, at the center of their mission statements, and exactly what keeps us all (yes, I shamelessly include The National Hotel in "the mix") opening our doors day in and day out.

Whether it's Thistle with its beautiful home furnishings, or FOFA, Elena Stokes' new shop of textile art, to Designs for Tranquility with all its beautiful sculptures, water fountains and artists' jewelry, there is a lot to see in Frenchtown--and that's just a random sampling.  The FBPA has put together an extensive list of the businesses, the services, and the upcoming events.  Truly an undertaking!  Did you catch RiverFest, or any of the OctoberFest activities?  If you did, please share your feedback...if you didn't, we're already planning next year's activities.  We'd love to hear from you, either by reading your comment or from your emails directly sent to me,

But that's not all.  Truly.  We've developed quite a following by patrons of the arts--and we owe it all to so many individuals who give of themselves.  Take Mike Pfeiffer, who has put together our Saturday Night Live Music Series.  He organizes the musicians' line-up, the sound system, the calendar--and he's even involved with our Wednesday evening "By the Fireplace" singer/songwriter live music series we kicked off last month.  Or how about Alex Wolfson, who helped us bring our Open Mic Night weekly Thursday night series to The National Hotel.  He's even renamed it:  The Frenchtown Underground.  Isn't that a great name?! 

And let's not forget Skye Van Saun and John Smith, who brought poetry to our establishment, creating a monthly, third Sunday of the month, People's Poetry, our poetry open mic.  And like them, there are so many other helpful friends who have had an impact on the programs we bring to light.  We're working on a Tuesday Trivia night thanks to another friend...more on that when we're ready to get it started.

When Pete and I take a moment to ourselves, to really think about all that's happened in just a little over a year, we truly can't help but feel blessed.  We feel like there's someone up there--whether you believe in God, G_d, a Higher Power, an inner strength, or God from within us--that has allowed us to partner with our neighbors and friends, and create an establishment that is welcoming and that encourages the community to participate, and actually "own" a piece of this special building.  We have no doubt that The National Hotel is a building that belongs to many, and that holds a special place in the lives of those who choose to make it a communal experience where we can all come in and share of ourselves, together.

Now that beats any "Black Friday" experience out there!!!  Be sure to get the latest information on The National Hotel, by following us twitter, finding us on facebook, subscribing to our YouTube channel, or reading our blog.  There's also plenty of information, including our menu items and our weekend additions to our menu, posted regularly on our website.  We hope to hear from you soon!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Just a little over a week ago, Pete and I were the guests of Chris Poh's weekly radio program, Bleeker Street CafĂ© on WDVR's 89.7 FM station (in Hunterdon County, NJ), where we were asked questions about reported friendly spirits at The National Hotel, sightings, etc.  Of course, "'tis the season," with Halloween just following the radio interview.  It was actually a lot of fun to sit in front of the microphone and recount the many stories that have been told to us, that have been written down by previous owners of The National Hotel, and which now make up the colorful past of Frenchtown.  As far as I'm concerned, the bottom line is that if in fact there is a ghost, it's a friendly ghost.  That's all I need to know.

Pete was recently contacted by a descendant of the "Apgar Sisters" and she was so generous that she has begun to send us original photos of her family when they owned The National Hotel.  Check out this photo montage of the flood of March 22, 1936:

But Halloween is over.  The costumes are back in the closet.  The temperatures have dropped and we are in the middle of November gearing up for the upcoming Holidays.  The National Hotel has been a fortunate recipient of the embrace that only artists can give.  We are in the middle of a fantastic holiday season filled with music, poetry, and new initiatives.  And this all comes from the heart and soul of trite as that sounds.  It is the local artists that have chosen The National Hotel as their venue of choice to put the arts in the limelight.  It's not Pete; it's not's the artists themselves.  And on top of that--our local patrons and arts enthusiasts continue to thank us!

The latter has never ceased. The thank you's from our patrons and from our Frenchtown neighbors continue to this day. It's truly unbelievable that one's customers (many of whom have truly become a member of The National Hotel family), demonstrate their gratitude for having this grand old lady of a building open again. Pete and I have many a conversation over how unusual an occurrence this is, having been business owners for many years. But that's the power of The National Hotel. The power of this historic establishment and what it means, deeply and profoundly, to our area neighbors. The power that it evokes to our patrons, but also to us, to Pete, to me, to Marlon, and to everyone who is involved with The National Hotel.

Pete and I have these conversations daily.  I'm being completely honest with this statement.  There has not been a day that Pete and I have not felt the warmth, the embrace, the grateful endorsement by local patrons, tourists, and neighbors alike.  All I can say is "Thank You," back to you.  There is absolutely no way, no possible way, that we could open our doors day after day, if it weren't for your patronage, your dedication to continue to keep the building alive and breathing. 

Our artists' listing keeps growing, our volunteer hosts and program developers continue to self-identify themselves, and you continue to support us.  What can we say other than "Thank YOU!  Please keep coming back!"

Check out our ever-expanding listing of performers, our special events and our weekly additions to our menu, not to mention our most recent seasonal menu launch.  Thank you for supporting us, and moreover, for welcoming us into your lives.  Pete and I are having a BLAST!  Did I say this already???

Please let us know if you want to recognize your server, our bartenders, or anyone on our staff.  They'll be pleased to know you remember them.  Follow us on Twitter, find us on facebook, check out our youtube channel, and sign up on our guest book to receive frequent updates of upcoming events.  Isn't it good to be the first to know?

Saturday, November 6, 2010


[Photos courtesy of Terry McCarthy Earhart]
Now that Halloween is over, the costumes have been put away, the Halloween Bash at The Rat is finished, with three prize winners enjoying their gift certificates for their terrific costumes (even The Mike Pfeiffer Band members were in costumes as they performed late into the night), we decided it was the perfect opportunity to launch our new seasonal menu. I finished typing it into our website and even before I clicked on the "update" button, I was craving too many of the new items on the menu; just had to reach out and get some.  Virtual reality has nothing on the real thing!  Delish!!!

Amazingly, November 3rd came and went, without much fanfare, without any special celebration.  Oh yes, November 3rd--election day in 2009, was the day we quietly opened the doors of The National Hotel--and this year, this past Wednesday, those of us who have been working there from the beginning, again, quietly, wished each other a Happy Anniversary.
We've been so busy planning and preparing for our first Wine Tasting Dinner that this past Wednesday's significance didn't get the "play" it might have deserved.  But we're so excited about this's coming fast--Sunday, November 14th, 2 p.m. onwards, by reservation only.  The wines of the Rodney Strong Winery will be featured and Chef Lisa has prepared an exclusive menu that will complement the different wines that have been selected for that special event.  If you're interested in joining us, click here for more information.

Many of our patrons have been asking us to put this type of an event together, but we wanted to do it right.  We wanted the experience to be memorable for everyone involved, and for it to be the type of event that our patrons and wine enthusiasts will gladly attend the next time we offer it.  As soon as we mentioned it to some of our clients, you could feel the excitement.  More hugs!!!  But we weren't the only ones giving out hugs this week...we had many, many loyal patrons who remembered our anniversary, who sent us texts during the day and who came in on Wednesday specifically to extend their well wishes and their thanks. 

As business proprietors we owe so much to our clients, but we also owe so much to our staff.  We have been told time and again just how inviting and dedicated our staff is, and we know this ourselves.  The staff is completely vested in bringing their best when they walk through our doors.  And they gladly give of themselves.  Just watch them interact with each other, as well as with our patrons--whether it's one of our loyal and consistent patrons, or a new individual coming to town.

And our hotel guests have shared this same sentiment with us--they've even written about it on travel blogs and websites.  That's partially what distinguishes our lovely little gem of a town from so many other destination areas.  Our business owners and residents alike, all truly enjoy having out-of-towners visit and explore Frenchtown.

In closing, I just want to extend an invitation to all of you to drop by and support our local artists who perform week after week during our weekly Thursday evening Open Mic Night (a.k.a. The Frenchtown Underground, renamed by our friend and The Rat's Open Mic Night originator, Alex Wolfson); come read one of your favorite poems (or one you've written yourself) during our monthly poetry open mic, renamed The People's Poetry by one of its originators, Skye Van Saun, who together with John Smith, created this wonderful and intimate afternoon series, the 3rd Sunday of every month; stay after our weekly Wednesday 1/2 priced drink special Ladies' Night for our By The Fireplace music series that just kicked off this past Wednesday, featuring Steph Hayes--check out the video she and Mike Pfeiffer created:

...join us for our weekly Sunday Musical Afternoon Series; or come and have a great night out on Saturday night for our Live Music Series organized by Mike Pfeiffer, as we feature different bands who will perform late into the night.  There's literally something to see or do almost every day of the week in Frenchtown, and The National Hotel has become "the late night destination" to wrap up your day.  Subscribe to our youtube channel, follow us on Twitter, or find us on facebook for the latest news or activities at The National Hotel. 

If you'd like me to add you to our email list to be the first to know about upcoming events, email me directly at  Your comments and feedback are always welcome, posted here or emailed to me.  Looking forward to seeing you!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Feeling absolutely elated, watching the rescue of my country of birth's trapped miners: "Chi Chi Chi, Le Le Le, Los Mineros de Chile!!!" What a worldwide effort...what a humanitarian effort...what a testament to global cooperation, bringing in experts, machinery, and moreover, multi-national cooperation to help "Los 33." Just a wonderful story. So proud of our US teams that went to Chile, their stories now being covered in today's early Sunday morning news programs and in the news these last few days. I for one, couldn't stop watching CNN & their full coverage of the event. Even the cartoonists are joining in on the fun--now these are talented people, telling a whole story w/just a small amount of space through their imaginative drawings.

Even our Thursday night Open Mic Night session this week had musicians abuzz with talk about the miners' rescue. Thank you, Alex Wolfson, for honoring Chile in your facebook post about Open Mic Night. And thank you to so many of our great friends and patrons of The National Hotel, who shared in the tears, the anxiety, and the exhilirating feeling of watching the rescue of these 33 men this week. This is "the stuff" that inspires great writers--a tragedy, an uncertainty, hope, anxiety, and in the case of Chile, a truly blessed and happy ending.

And how appropriate that today, we hold another session of our monthly People's Poetry (our 3rd Sunday of the month Open Mic Poetry session), from 2 - 4 p.m. I just know that we will once again be in awe of those who take the mic, who are willing to share the words they've written to express memories, precious moments, lost opportunities, regrets, or true elations. I think about Skye Van Saun's poems, which express so much pain, and yet are intertwined with lessons of survival, of grabbing life and moving forward. Or how about John Smith's poems, that move us, immerse us in the images he conveys. And so many other wonderful writers. Here are just a few morsels of what you've seen if you've attended the People's Poetry, or what you might be able to catch if you have the time to come to The Rat, where we hold these very friendly, open, and intimate poetry readings:

Last month's session was hosted by Warren Cooper, and each month we have volunteers who self-identify as being able to host the afternoon program. Thank you to all of you involved with this wonderful event, and for sharing your own poems (or favorite authors' poems), as well as for giving one of today's greatest gifts to all of us: your time. Can't wait to see what's in store this afternoon!

If you'd like to share any of your poems with us, please post them as a comment here, or on our facebook fan page, share a link from any youtube clip you may have to put on The National Hotel youtube channel, or a link on our twitter page. Or just email me at

Stay tuned for more news on our upcoming music we have Kenny Cunningham upstairs in our Restaurant & Bar, from 5 - 7 p.m. But we've got quite a line-up of musicians that I'll post soon on our website.
Thanks again for choosing The National Hotel as a venue for the arts!!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


It must be September, because the days are just SOOOOO full of things to do. Between The National Hotel, the girls' school (and let's not forget their afterschool activities), friends' fundraisers, etc., the days have escaped me and I am only now putting "pen to paper" to post another installment of our blog.

Pete's been in the kitchen! I know he's my husband, but I'm so proud of all that he's been able to do and the enthusiasm with which he embraces every day. He's been hard at work re-creating some Indian delicacies with which he grew up in India, and combining his memories with some delicious traditional recipes from classic Indian cook books with our terrific kitchen staff. These will make up our entire Additions to the Menu that started this past Thursday, September 23rd through tomorrow, Sunday, September 26th. Be sure to stop by and savor some exotic flavors right here in our own backyard--Indian Nights at The National Hotel! Click on the link to see some of the delicacies we'll be featuring this weekend...

This follows a wonderful write-up from Icon Magazine by Robert Gordon. Their Dining Out section took our summer menu to task and we are just so pleased to have passed their litmus test. What a terrific endorsement from a wonderful publication.

And we just hosted another Open Mic Night session on Thursday too, featuring Brian Molnar. The night's host was Kevin Gilson and it was a total crowd pleaser. Our other Open Mic Nights have seen new talent the the mic as well as some familiar faces.

And many of these familiar faces came out to support our featured performers these last few weeks, during our Sunday Musical Afternoon series. We've been fortunate to have had so many talented performers, including Mike Pfeiffer once again, Chuck Schaeffer returning for another successful night of country rockabilly fun, Steve Jones , and a former Frenchtown resident, Russell Norkevich . We also were treated to the sounds of David Falcone on the 12th of September, and tomorrow we'll host the return appearance of Ray McGeehan. Every week, another wonderful 2 hours of music that delight our patrons, and lift the spirits of those of us working on the premises. Sunday is one of our favorite days of the week! Just look and listen to a few of our featured musicians...find more at our The National Hotel NJ YouTube channel:

This entire month has been a month filled with the arts. We just finished hosting the last installment of "our" monthly People's Poetry last week--and I say "our" in quotes, because it's a program initiated and supported by our local community members...not something that Pete and I put into motion, but rather something that has grown organically. It was a treat to be a witness to the wonderful poets who took the mike. Be sure to visit the People's Poetry facebook fanpage to get up-to-date information on the poets, the events, and future plans. And last Sunday's poetry open mic was followed by our weekly Sunday Musical Afternoon series that has provided our guests with the wonderful musical performances of local talent. Again, yet another opportunity for The National Hotel to shine, simply because these artists have adopted The National Hotel as their chosen venue. Thank you!!! Thank you for bringing your art, your talent, your creativity to our establishment, for ALL of us to enjoy.

We can't wait to see you at The National Hotel. Whether you're coming to savor our Indian Nights Additions to the Menu items this weekend, spending time with us at the Rat's weekly Open Mic Night, joining us for our monthly People's Poetry, or supporting our local artists as they perform during our weekly Sunday Musical Afternoon series, please continue to visit our facebook fanpage, search our artists' webclips by subscribing to our National Hotel NJ youtube channel, or sign up for our twitter page. If you'd like to leave a comment on things you've enjoyed at The National Hotel, send a note to one of these artists, or just share some thoughts, please do so, or email me directly at Hope to see you this weekend...the food is YUMMM!