Tuesday, February 9, 2010


How about that! I just published a post yesterday & I realize that I am missing half the story. Our Open Mike Nights went off like gang-busters (is that the term??) last week and our 2nd installment is this Thursday beginning at 8:30 p.m. for sign-ups, with the show kicking off at 9 p.m. I know there's going to be a blanketing of snow in our area (or so they've been announcing for days and it started coming down earlier tonight), but instead of staying home and feeling the winter blues, why not come out to Frenchtown and share a musical night in our Rathskeller Pub. You can mingle with others in the Pub while you get a drink and warm up next to our wood-burning fireplace, or meander onto our Lounge area to sit, chat and listen to music. What could be better? Click here if you'd like to contact us via email to sign up or if you have any questions.

On top of that, I also talk so much about the building itself and our wonderful guests, that I think I've neglected telling you about our wonderful staff. I know I've mentioned one name here and there, but really, without the infrastructure in place to have consistently good service, great food and wonderful drinks, where would we be?
So rather than an homage to our own staff, I'll just share some anecdotes as to why our home away from home is so special. Take for instance our executive chef, Ron Rittenhouse. Yes, he has all the credentials that any serious establishment would be proud to publish, but it's his deep devotion to quality, to supporting our local farmers, our local economy, that is an integral part of Ron. When I've been there before the sun comes up working on this press release or trying to put into effect that marketing tactic, I am always pleasantly surprised by Ron's presence before anyone else enters the building. When I see him though, I know I'm cutting it short on getting myself out the door to my other work in NYC...so I run, but it's always a pleasure to see him jump right in, taking care of inventory, prepping for the day, and in general organizing everything for his kitchen staff.
Not long after Ron arrives, Lisa walks through the door...now I know I'm going to be late...should've left 10 minutes ago! But seeing Lisa in action starts my day off just right. First of all, she makes sure the coffee is percolating. Love that! Second, she knows just where to go and what to do to fit right in with Ron; they have a lot of chemistry and compliment each other nicely.

When I return to NJ from a full day away, Lisa is usually gone, and I'm greeted as I walk through the back door of the kitchen, by Zack and Jeff. I have yet to find them in a bad mood. The "hello's" and "how was your day" always await me. They don't get thrown off by me or by my two munchkins who are always in tow, as they come to greet their dad, Pete.

And then there's Marlon, of course. Wonderful Marlon, or "Merlin" as one of our long-time customers calls him, "Merlin, the magician, because he always makes magic here and takes care of everything." Do you have any idea how fantastic it is to hear comments like that? We've only been open since November 3rd of last year. To have people constantly coming up to me and telling me just how great Marlon is, how wonderful Kasey is at the bar, how great Glenn makes the drinks (not to mention his collection of jazz music that he has allowed us to share with all of you, beautifully complementing Marlon's extensive jazz collection), or just how terrific Chris, Kevin, Ryan, Brenda and Bryan are at catering to their every need, is just fantastic.

Oh, and let's not forget The Rathskeller Pub. It just wouldn't be the same without Lynn. Even with a brace on her leg, she managed to work through all that pain, going up and down the stairs to get this or that. She's now working with our newest bartenders, Donna and Tobi, who are proving to be quite the assets to The National Hotel. Just like our clientèle, who enjoy mingling upstairs as well as hanging out downstairs, our bartending staff work the upstairs Bar and the downstairs Rathskeller Pub bar.

On any average day, it's a joy to be around our staff, who seem to enjoy being our ambassadors of good will and courteous service to our clientèle. There's no doubt in my mind that we've got a solid team on board. Having my husband, Pete, at the helm, supported by all these wonderful individuals, who bring their passion for this industry and their love of this historic building each and every day, I am sure we will withstand the ups and downs that go hand-in-hand with the restaurant business.

If there is anything that you'd like us to add, change or review, please feel free to contact us directly at info@thenationalhotelnj.com, or pete@thenationalhotelnj.com. Your feedback is critical to us, so feel free to email us, or post your comments on this blog.

Thank you to all of you who have helped make The National Hotel a welcome spot for our community!


  1. When choosing the tracks to be played in a hotel, the owners better make sure that they carefully choose these since the music might either lure in customers or perhaps make them check out as early as they could.

  2. Your feedback is much appreciated. At the National Hotel, we carefully screen those who play during our Saturday Night Live Music series and our Sunday Musical Afternoons. Our weekly Thursday Open Mic Night is much more fluid and requires being open to new talent as well as returning talent. Our guests have made our Thursday evenings one of the best nights of the week, as they continue to return to our cellar tavern, The Rathskeller Pub, to enjoy a night filled with music by artists from the local area, and from out-of-state. Again, thank you for your comment.