Sunday, April 18, 2010

New Entertainment, New Menus, Inside and Out

We can’t wait until later this afternoon, when Chuck Schaeffer ("The Chuck Wagon") together with Vern Warta, makes us all move, when he entertains us with his mix of Rockabilly, Folk, Americana, and Country Rock. Does the word “FUN” come to mind? We’ve been approached by so many talented musicians, that we are now pleased to offer music at The National Hotel almost every Sunday through the end of June. Be sure to join us today, Sunday, April 18th, from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m., downstairs in The Rathskeller Pub Lounge to catch Chuck Schaeffer.

And don't stop there, because you'll find that we're going to play hosts to other wonderfully talented musicians throughout the next couple of months. There are so many people involved in putting together a successful event. I know this from my own life, having worked in the non-profit sector for nearly 20 years, but what's so unusual about The National Hotel, is that so much of the "fun stuff" we offer, the Open Mic Nights,

the Poetry Open Mic,

the Sunday Music in the Afternoon series, actually happens because of the efforts and interest of the community. Pete and I essentially play hosts, offer the venue, but it is our Frenchtown and Hunterdon County friends and neighbors, who have made it a point to ensure that their treasured gem of a building never again closes its doors, never again is boarded up to create sadness and angst amongst all who pass by. Pete and I have been charged with taking on a business venture that is less business and more passion. We have engaged in an exercise of personal and community necessity, which drives us every single day to do our very best to make sure we meet (and wherever possible, exceed) expectations--our own, and those of our great neighbors.

Pete and I are just blessed to have been embraced by this community of artists and art aficionados. And to have captured the attention of the media, just means that we are also getting recognized for consistently creating quality dishes and providing an inviting atmosphere for the local resident as well as the traveler who comes from afar.

It ‘s only been about a month since our last review in The Courier News, where The National Hotel dominated the front page of one of their interior sections. The reviews of the food were fantastic and of the establishment itself too. And now, just 2 weeks ago, we were fortunate enough to have been a featured center story in The Good Times section of The Trenton Times. They captured one of our bartenders, Tobi “in action” pouring a martini, and offered a beautiful photo of our historic Bar.

It also captured the new covers to our menus, which we just LOVE! It seems like such a small detail, but to us, a lot of thought, time and attention to detail went into picking out just the right covers, making sure there was synergy between them and the room’s décor. Have you seen them? Do you like them?

And then you open them, and you find the most incredible assortment of wonderful food carefully planned and prepared by our kitchen, led by our executive chef, Ron Rittenhouse. From the appetizers to the small plates, to the main entrees, we have gotten such wonderful feedback from our patrons. They love the food, they love the classics on the menu, they love the exotic seasonings we offer for some of our dishes…and they love the prices.

It’s still a recession out there. There are still so many people hurting, looking for work, struggling. The National Hotel is not the kind of establishment you frequent only once a year. Oh no. Pete and I are living the American Dream, but precisely because this great country has allowed us to do so, we are also well aware of the struggles and road blocks/challenges we have faced and that others in our community are currently facing. Two immigrants, naturalized citizens from two different parts of the world—it could really only happen that one person with an Indian passport meats another with a Chilean passport and actually connect—came together, formed a family, took a risk and started their own business, and now have the support of neighbors and friends, many of whom can trace their roots for generations in this very area.

And that’s a very powerful reason why we want to offer a variety of choices on our menu where everyone can find something that they can afford and that they can enjoy. And this extends to our commitment to support our local merchants and our local farmers. Pete and I want very much to make sure that our establishment adds to the growth of our local community. And we are pleased that Ron has been able to make our vision and our goal a reality, by working with local producers and farmers and to offer these great products to our patrons.

From menu choices that run the gamut in ethnicity to sensitive pricing of the dishes, to offering what used to be “alternative” choices, and are now desirable and sought-after food choices labeled as vegan and vegetarian, The National Hotel’s vision is to create a culinary experience that will keep you coming back.

I hope we have achieved that. I know our patrons have embraced our Thursday to Sunday Specials Menu, to the point where we were just “testing the waters” to see if we should even deviate from the main menu, and now have made it a weekly tradition to offer new options at the end of the week to liven things up a bit. Your feedback did that. It was your comments, your suggestions, your interaction with us that helped us bring these dishes to fruition. Pete, Marlon (our General Manager), and Ron, always keep their ears open for these nuggets of information. Hearing our patrons tell us that “We’ll have to bring our parents next time. They’d love this place,” or “What a great meal…and those martinis!” We can’t get enough of it. And Ron and Kasey Goyette, our lead bartender, who designed the signature drinks for The National Hotel, just get such a bolt of energy when they hear that they’ve hit a home run, that we cannot thank you enough for letting us know.

Now that our Thursday to Sunday Specials Menu has been so successful, keep your eyes open for our summer menu that we’ll kick off as the weather gets better…we’ve even planned some dishes that have a stronger ethnic fusion, while still offering your traditional favorites. We can’t wait for your feedback once we launch it!

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