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!