Saturday, July 10, 2010


We're preparing for this Sunday's launch of "Boxing with Gaia" (or love your mother) dinner theater, in conjunction with Steven Dennis and River Union Stage. We are so fortunate to be able to host 3 Sundays of dinner theater, starting TOMORROW, beginning at 4 p.m. This has come to fruition thanks to Keith Strunk, Managing Director at River Union Stage, who helped us participate in this incredible program, which will also have a showing at the Prallsville Mills in Stockton, NJ this summer. For reservations or for more information, contact Pete directly at or just call us at 908.996.3200. We do hope you'll help us celebrate and support this artistic community by making Sundays in July memorable together.

In fact, July started with Frenchtown's First Fridays with shops open later and music in the streets. It's quite a month. Especially for us at The National Hotel. We launched our brand new seasonal menu, and we're committed to continue to support our local and sustainable farmers. Take a look here for our new choices. And you'll find the same menu now at our upstairs Restaurant also offered downstairs at The Rat.

Our "official" grand opening took place last Saturday and we are still floating from the warm welcome all of our guests extended to us. We were hugged, kissed, celebrated, and lifted in more ways than one. Did you join us on the 3rd? What a day!!! Our Frenchtown mayor, Ron Sworen, the Chief of Police, Allan W. Kurylka, friends like Chris Poh, and our wonderful staff, helped us get the 12-hour marathon celebration off to a great start! We even had the support of our local businesses, as many called to let us know that they had posted The National Palooza information in their establishments for their clients to see. Thank you Frenchtown Business and Professional Association (FBPA)! In fact, the FBPA is responsible for all of the planning of Frenchtown's First Fridays and Bastille Day in Frenchtown...that's just a week away!

But back to last Saturday. First was the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Next, the conversations, the music, the St. Germain cocktails (which appear to be a favorite of Martha Stewart now, with many variations), the wonderful food (whether you stayed outside or chose to pick from our new summer menu choices inside), and the dancing! Oh yeah!! Let's not forget the dancing--all the way through midnight.

And how lucky we were to have the sun shining down on us all day, with a warm breeze making the day's temperature oh so tolerable, and a great time to be outside. 12 hours of music and fun, all progressively getting busier, getting more lively, and filling our outdoor space.

The fun really started when Chuck Schaeffer took the stage with Vern Warta and Jim Thompson. They're foot-stomping rockabilly music got everyone into the right mood. It was early in the afternoon and people were just arriving, but it certainly enticed a few of our guests to get on the dance floor and dance away all their cares. But we knew this would happen, because Chuck has participated in our Sunday Musical Afternoon series at The National Hotel, and he delivered a standing room only afternoon. He is not only talented, but also incredibly engaging; the connection he establishes with the audience is incredible. He has a rapport, an ease, that creates an incredible comfort level. Last Saturday was no different. It was fun to be on the sidelines and watch all this...and fun for those who chose to join that first couple...even the kids got in on the action and swayed to Chuck's music.

I'm still working on Chuck's Part II of the day webclip...there was so much to share & it just wasn't possible to fit it all into a clip under 10 min. Stay tuned!

A little break while the next band set up, was just the perfect chance to have a sip of our St. Germain cocktail, chilled and served ice cold. Mmmmmm, nice! Pair that with a yummy plateful of our delicious sweet potato salad and one of the main dishes served, and it was just enough time to welcome our next band, Top Soil.

And boy, oh boy, did things get heated then! This local trio of "punk polka" didn't disappoint. It was a high-energy, high-voltage performance that got literally EVERYONE out on the dance floor, young and old, parents, children, grandchildren. You just can't watch or listen to this band and not want to jump up and down. Did I say "fun" already? But really, that's what it was!!! Even an one wanted them off the stage. Everyone in town knows them, and just absolutely loves them. Crazy fun!

People came in and went out, took a stroll, wandered into the Rat, or upstairs to our Bar, but they came back to listen to Rainbow Fresh, a wonderful rock/pop/alternative band, that captivated the audience, had people on their feet and many of us dancing spontaneously! I found this description on the internet about Rainbow Fresh, and it absolutely describes this band perfectly: "Rainbow Fresh represents alternative music in its most sincere and imaginative form. In their music, you can hear the best elements of 70's rock, flavored with Samba and Latin jazz influences. Their artistry lies in their ability to create beautiful songs that everyone can relate to; songs that powerfully emote expressions of love, loss, and hope." (

I have to say that Rainbow Fresh's lead guitarist and founding member, Rich Seiner, blew us away with the kindness of his words and the authenticity of his delivery. Check out what he says at the start of this webclip:

We will never forget his graciousness. Together with Martin Purcell (Bass, vocals), and John Purcell (drums), Rainbow Fresh provide a mesmerizing performance, full of tenderness, intensity, and talent. After you have a chance to look at this webclip, you'll probably want to keep watching...I separated them into manageable clip sizes, so come back to digest some more on The National Hotel NJ youtube channel if you have time.

The truth is that all of these artists are beyond talented. They have established themselves with a following, a fan base, and an area tour schedule that keeps them busy throughout the year. And they deserve our support. If you have the time, do check out their webpages to see where they'll be performing next and catch their live act, buy their CDs or download their music from their sites. It's a terrific opportunity to grow as these talented artists also grow and develop their musical styles. We wish them every success possible. One day, we'll be able to say, "Remember when they performed at The National Hotel? We saw them live back then. Shucks...should've asked for their autographs!!"

And now that we're "officially" open...ha ha...well, the possibilities are endless. We've been planning. We've been putting our thoughts on paper and plans into action. And Sunday, we'll have out first dinner theater experience at The National Hotel. We do hope you'll join us! Let us know what you think, won't you?


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