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 Friday...it'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.
NJMyWay.com 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.
You 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 NJMyWay.com 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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!