Saturday, February 26, 2011


They say "word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising," and although I've always known this intuitively, it was proved to me quite conclusively this past weekend.  We did NO public relations, announcing our Thai-inspired Additions to the Menu this past weekend.  It was a test of sorts, to see if we could build enough "buzz" about the weekend's special items without actually utilizing traditional media outlets to get the word out that we were doing something truly unique for our area.

And it worked.

Photo courtesy of Lois Heyman

Lisa Frederick, our executive chef, truly outdid herself creating a sensually delightful selection of inspiring dishes that invited diners to select them based on her written descriptions of the dishes, followed by the visually appealing presentation of the dishes that appeared before them...and...wait for it...the taste.  The absolutely delightful, appealing, and excitingly exotic flavors of Thai cuisine came alive this past weekend.  Had I been a little quicker on the draw, I would have a photo of Lisa preparing these dishes to share.  My bad.  In the meantime, here's one of Pu-Ja, two soft shell crabs, stuffed with pork and crab, flash fried with Mee Ploy sauce...can you say, "YUMMMMM?!!"

Pete sat with Lisa at the end of 2010 and designed a slew of weekends that would be ethnically-themed, kicking it off in February with our Thai-inspired weekend.  We wanted to quietly promote these unique items that followed our fully-booked Valentine's weekend, without advertising it.  So much of our business comes from our local patrons, Frenchtown residents and Hunterdon and Bucks County patrons, that we didn't want to have a sold-out weekend that would exclude them.  After all, it is these same individuals that have shown up at our doorstep during the worst of our winter storms, always with a smile, and always grateful that our doors were open to receive them.

Our gratitude is immense, and our deepest honor comes in serving our patrons.  And this is why, truly, we didn't "pound the pavement" to make sure EVERYONE knew that we were featuring these special dishes.  We wanted to make sure our "regulars" were treated in a special way, and that they received the same treatment that our weekend visitors would receive.  At The National Hotel, we pride ourselves in being able to meet our clients' expectations--and exceed them.  We are so pleased with the way things turned out.

And to those of you who follow our blog, or have checked our website, or our facebook fanpage, you'll be happy to learn that this Thai-inspired weekend was just the beginning.  Oh yes, we have our second installment of our Indian Nights weekend planned for March, and a Vietnamese-themed weekend in April.  Stay tuned for more details...

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  How about our St. Patrick's Day celebration, with an authentic Irish band, Club Subheine (pronounced "Sweeney" case you were wondering) playing on our porch that following Saturday night, March 19th, and our wonderful and robust line-up of musicians that are listed on our website?  How about our incredibly well-attended bi-weekly Tuesday Trivia nights?  And best of all, these are all programs that have grown organically...not because Pete or I wanted to feature this or that, but rather, because you brought these programs to our attention, and you were willing to host, program, encourage, or attend these special nights.  No wonder The National Hotel has become an evening destination for so many people.  There's always something happening.  Even on the the odd days when there isn't a planned program, there's always a friendly or familiar face waiting for you indoors.  And we love that.

I think that what Pete and I love about being associated with The National Hotel is not that we "own" the building, it's not that we "run" the restaurant, it's not that we "dispense" the libations that keep patrons coming's more than that.  Pete and I have been absorbed into the very fabric of the building; we love learning more and more about the building with every day that passes.  Its history is rich...and its heritage is envied by many.  Pete and I are only hoping that our minuscule moment in time with The National Hotel will prove to our next generation that honesty, integrity, and a just plain "roll up your sleeves" attitude can truly create a place that resonates with so many.  And you, who come to dine, or for a quick lunch, or to enjoy some local talent on Open Mic Night, you who boost our spirits with accolades about our menu choices and specialty drinks, continue to make sure that The National Hotel NEVER undergoes the terrible crisis it felt in 2008 and 2009 when it was shuttered.  This establishment is bursting out of every pore of its facade with joy, with happiness and with familiarity.  It is a building with such tremendously rich history that just being associated with it brings us a tremendous sense of satisfaction.  And from the feedback I've gotten from our patrons--it also brings you a familiar sense of "home."

This feedback is tremendously welcome.  So many of you have taken the time to email us, and to fill out the cards at the end of your meals with your birthday and/or anniversary dates, as well as comments on the back of the forms, that I've been amazed at the honesty with which you share your thoughts.  Again, thank you.  It is this very transparent communication, this true integrity in our relationship with our patrons, that propels us forward every day.  And boy do we have plans for 2011!  From our March Indian Nights weekend, to our April Easter brunch, to a Vietnamese-inspired weekend, to a Spanish-themed weekend...oh, and let's not forget our 2nd annual National Palooza scheduled for June 4th.  2011 is definitely shaping up to be a banner year!  Hope you'll get on board and share this ride with us.  We'll keep posting information on our facebook fanpage, our website, our youtube channel, and our twitter page.  Do continue to email me your feedback, because ultimately, our success is tied directly to you.  We are very appreciative of your support, your ideas, and your continuous commitment to making sure we "get it right."  Thank you, thank you, thank you!


  1. Belated happy St. Patty's Day too! Anyway, The National Hotel is a really cool place to explore the different cultures in the world. Then head over to the
    luxurious hotels in Cornwall where culture meets luxury meets hotel. :)

  2. Thank you, @Luxury Cornwall, for your comment. We have been very fortunate to be in a part of the world where different cultures are able to share their heritage w/those around them. In fact, that's what many of our patrons love about The National Hotel, where our Restaurant continuously presents them w/various ethnic-inspired and often authentic dishes from which to choose. The building itself invites participation from our local artists to share and help expose those in attendance to other cultural traditions and diverse points of view. Thanks again for your comment!