Friday, January 22, 2010


What a joy to see the tapestry quilt that Pete and I bought on one of our many trips to India together. We had traveled to northern India with our two daughters, and had the opportunity to visit some local artisans. The handicrafts they had created with their own hands, some with very rudimentary tools, were just extraordinary. Just looking at these pieces, and then having the opportunity to actually touch them, to feel the history behind each carving, each stitch...extraordinary. And what made it that much more special, was that we knew that whatever article we were touching, had been created through visual, tactile, and verbal memory; an inter-generational tradition of passing down their family's skill-set.

Truly from the moment we took the boards off the facade of the building and had a chance to take in the scope and breadth of the building, Pete and I knew that we would want to mount and frame this beautiful tapestry quilt to share with all our new friends in Frenchtown. This town has such a community of artists, of appreciation for all things old, hand-made and even foreign, that we just couldn't wait to choose a frame, background, etc. Well, with everything else that took place in just our enormous effort to open our doors barely two months after we took over ownership, the tapestry took a backseat. But it was not forgotten. Oh no. In fact, Marlon Aranha, our General Manager, will gladly share tales with you of how many mistakes we made trying to get this artwork on our wall. Frustrating? An understatement. But now that it is proudly displayed in our private dining room, it was all well worth it. My incessant calls to Marlon for updates, his follow-up on the work, the on-again-off-again mounting...all worth it. You really must drop by to see it. It's centuries old, and yet, the colors used (which eerily match the colors throughout our building), are vibrant and alive.

And this is the fun part! Not only did Pete and I decide to share a piece of our travels by displaying this piece of art at The National Hotel, but we also decided that the frame should be a part of our own home. Yes! In fact, Dan Maltby, owner of Maltby Construction in Kingwood Township, and a master carpenter who has done a lot of restoration work for properties in the Princeton area, as well as a lot of work for us on our 1850s farmhouse, and also helped us with a couple of projects a The National Hotel, used some pretty old wood from our farmhouse, to create the frame. And I cannot leave out Glass Castle, who helped us with cutting the right odd-size glass for the frame, to actually offering to mount it for us. Thank you Glass Castle and thank you Bryan, our wonderful staff member who pulls double-duty by working for Glass Castle too. The tapestry, centuries old from India, looks gorgeous in our private dining room.

We hope you'll drop by to see it. It's been a long process to have it framed and mounted, but when you see the tapestry quilt, you'll know it was worth it. When I look at it, I can almost see the artisans in northern India, working to save the little worn-out pieces of clothing from their ancestors, in order to do a tapestry quilt from which generations of handicraft skills are passed. What a treasure we found in our travels. We just love being a part of the energy that participating in microfinancing of sorts (on a very small scale on our part) creates. The joy and feeling of accomplishment you see in their faces is unforgettable. Please do stop by and let us know what you think. We'd love to have you post your feedback on this blog.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


This weekend we're in for a treat! We have Dennis Thatcher performing on Sunday, January 24th, in the Rathskeller Pub Lounge, from 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. Den plays classic cover rock, including James Taylor, Lifehouse, Poco, Crosby/Stills/Nash, Dave Mason, Elton John, America, Bob Seger, Bread, Stone Temple Pilots...the list goes on...Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Dylan, Simon/Garfunkel, Emerson/Lake/Palmer, and many, many more!!!

Do come out on Sunday and join us to enjoy Den Thatcher's music. It'll be a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon....and you can even get drinks from the Rat and sit in the lounge to enjoy the music. Can't wait for Sunday!

And this follows another great weekend...we had Sandy Zio in the Rathskeller Pub Lounge, and just down the hall, we had sports enthusiasts enjoying the football season in the Rat. Sandy started the afternoon with some beautiful melodies, some of her own compositions, and some from a list of composers she loves. When the room started to fill up, Sandy connected with those in the room immediately! She joked with them, she took requests, she had conversations...a lot of fun to watch!
It was wonderful to see the sports enthusiasts tearing themselves away from the Rat throughout the afternoon, intrigued by Sandy's beautiful voice and talented piano skills. They would run from the Rat to the lounge and back, and each time they sat for a bit to listen to Sandy, the comments were unanimous: "What a talented musician." "What a joy to have music at The National Hotel again." "What a great space you've created in the lounge for musicians."

Well, after all the accolades, all Pete and I could say, truly from the heart, was "Thank you." We truly wanted to create a space that would make anyone walking into our establishment feel welcome, feel comfortable, and feel like they want to come back again and again. It's such a feeling of accomplishment to know that we have gained the trust and loyalty of so many of our Frenchtown neighbors, and now expanding our reach to other areas of Hunterdon County and Bucks County.

Pete and I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to join the Frenchtown community and share our passion in this industry to bring alive the history and rich background of The National Hotel. We hope you will join us this Sunday, and on many other occasions to help us continue to grow our community of friends. See you soon!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The National Hotel is proud to welcome Sandy Zio on Sunday, January 17th as she performs from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. Please mark your calendars and join us on the 17th.

Sandy Zio has honed her vocal and piano style by playing hundreds of concerts over the past eight years, and because she is a relative newcomer to the club scene, she exudes freshness and an engaging spirit that makes her live shows a treat.

With regards to Sandy's original music, in the words of famous drummer Manu Katché (who has performed with Sting, Peter Gabriel, JoeSatriani), “cool stuff, nice voice!!” Zio has also been fortunate enough to have shared the stage with such well-known performers as Richie Cannata (Billy Joel), Julio Fernandez (SpyroGyra), Tony Beard (Paul McCartney), Joel Rosenblatt (Spyro Gyra), Glen Burtnik (Styx), Bobby Bandiera (BonJovi), Teddy Royal (Fats Domino),and Liberty Devitto (Billy Joel). Zio has released her debut CD available on, I-tunes,, etc. Currently Zio is playing several acoustic solo shows and she is also performing with the local band, the Mojo Mystics as well as other projects including the Saloon Chicks, The Reock N Roll Revue, and of course, the Sandy Zio band.

Please join us at The National Hotel’s Rathskeller Lounge on Sunday January 17th, from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. to help us welcome Sandy Zio to our musical afternoon series. Click here for more information, or post a comment below. See you on Sunday!

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Happy New Year's!!! 2010 is finally here! And today is our 2nd month since we opened our doors!!! We closed out 2009 with such a fantastic night...full house, fun night upstairs and continued celebrations downstairs at The Rat. We're already planning ahead for other festive evenings and musical weekends, kicking it off on Sunday, January 17th, with Sandy Zio joining us at our Rathskeller lounge, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Not only is she terrific, you have no idea how many emails we've gotten from fellow musicians who absolutely love her! Some of them on this very blog...

So much has happened in less than 2 months--we opened our doors on November 3rd...and yet, it's become our home. We live & breathe The National Hotel. Our children feel comfortable going into the kitchen and asking our wonderful staff for this or that. Our girls sit, eat, and chat with the members of our staff. The conversations range from what's happening in school, to history, to movies, to the work at hand, and even world events. It's so good to see such a sharing of different lives. It's an extended family.

Even our customers, who graciously come back again and again, have become part of our extended family. They hear about our joys and woes and share their lives, bringing us into their lives, their daily experiences, their history and family. All this over great food, terrific drinks, and what we hope feels like a comfortable and inviting ambiance. The winning combination of a professional and experienced kitchen staff, led by Ron Rittenhouse, to our terrific bar staff, led by Kasey Goyette, complemented by exceptional service from our wait staff, to overall management with attention to every detail from our general manager, Marlon Aranha, continue to deliver a blue ribbon experience for our customers.

We hope to see you soon...and we'll soon post photos of Lisa, Glen, Brenda, Lynn, Ryan, and Juan...and yours truly (who is always behind the camera)...who weren't on shift when we took these photos...I think it's time for a group shot actually, don't you?

Anyway, let's celebrate the arrival of 2010 together! Share this post with your friends and spread the word about Sandy Zio performing at The National Hotel on January 17th! Until then...