Saturday, December 1, 2012


It's December 1st already!  I know the holiday season was upon us even before we put the turkey on the table, with all the shops everywhere promoting holiday gift ideas.  For us, at The National Hotel, we spent the last month trying to catch our breath after Superstorm Sandy hit our area.  But tonight, we're in a celebratory mood, bringing  back Mike Pfeiffer, who has surprised us even further by announcing that he will perform tonight with his wife, Donna, and brother, Wex, with their own mix of great music (original songs and some classic), that will follow a performance by Rich Cashman starting at 8:30 p.m.  We've never had a night like this, so you can imagine our excitement.

To top off an already exciting music extravaganza, we have Carol Thompson and Friends performing tomorrow afternoon, 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. in our Restaurant and Bar.  If you were here when she last performed, you know why she is a Grammy Award-winning musician for her work with Paul Winter on Celtic Solstice.  

Together with all of the celebrations, holiday parades in our area, and holiday events, it brings me back to the absolute humanity that I witnessed first-hand right here, in Frenchtown, NJ, following the catastrophic events that Sandy brought to our are.  There's been so much press on this though, on the wonderful humanitarian efforts by so many, that I won't repeat what has already been said so often.  The only things that I would like to highlight, actually take me from the moment that we realized just how horrible the aftermath of Sandy was to present day.  Not only have I witnessed incredible volunteer efforts by individuals, but also tremendous conviction by those affected by the storm who were left with little--and some without homes.  
Wood turtle found in Frenchtown Nov. 2012
Photo Credit:  Renée Kiriluk-Hill, Hunterdon Democrat
It goes without saying that even in our own backyard, we witnessed people coming together to help, right here in Frenchtown, NJ.  Even yesterday in the news, there was an article about how, while working to restore a damaged creek after Sandy, the crew helped rescue a threatened species, the reclusive wood turtle.  As it turns out, it was reported today that it was a snapping turtle after all--but how wonderful that the crew erred on the side of caution and tried to help.  Even the littlest beings matter!

And others helped rescue other animals in our area and in the more affected areas.  What impressed me the most, was the impromptu group, led by Dawn Taylor, the owner of a Frenchtown shop, Country Chic, that formed what is now known as the Frenchtown Angels, collecting clothes, food, cleaning supplies, and more, from local residents.  They've taken truck loads to Staten Island, NY and more recently, to Toms River, NJ.  The devastation that they saw inspired them to continue this effort.  And, people have continued to donate goods.  Thank you to all of these wonderful volunteers, who spent countless hours collecting donations, sorting the different goods, and then delivering them to those in need.
Frenchtown Angels send two truckloads of supplies to Toms River
Photo Credit:  Rick Epstein, Hunterdon County Democrat
We were so lucky to be able to count on Dawn for organizing this, and just be able to drop off some goods, while we, at The National Hotel, took care of so many people in our area who had no electricity and came in for a little respite from the cold.  We blocked one of our hotel guest suites and kept it open for many in our area who needed a warm shower, or a warm room in which to change, or even something as simple as a flushing toilet, not to mention charging the electronic devices that are now very much a part of all of our lives.  The gratitude these local residents expressed to us is still a vivid memory.  I've been reminded of the good in people here at home, as well as while wearing my other hat working for a not-for-profit in NYC.  I have seen the remarkable hands-on work that the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) has done.  We had 5,000 nurses visiting their patients after the storm hit.  Someone I know personally, was unable to return to her home in the Far Rockaways, but continued to care for her patients, and put her own personal situation to the side, in order to make sure that no one went without care.  And like her, there are countless others who lost their homes and still continued to care for their patients.  Even Diane Sawyer accompanied one of our nurses climbing 17 flights of stairs to visit a home-bound patient.  

New York City saw many of those stories, because without electricity, there was no way for these individuals to climb down to pick up groceries or fill prescriptions.  Thank goodness for the great relief work of so many not-for-profits, but on a personal note, thank goodness for VNSNY--I mean that from the bottom of my's not a plug for this wonderful, nearly 120-year old not-for-profit community-based and home health care organization.  I am grateful to be associated with this organization, just as I am grateful to be part of this wonderful Hunterdon County community that is blessed with its own non-profits doing great work in our area, and individuals lifting others' spirits by visiting those who are home-bound, those who were without power for so long, and even our local churches, synagogues, and other religious institutions providing food and other goods to those who were in need.  

Frenchtown is truly a magnificent part of our country.  It encompasses all the natural beauty of the Delaware River area, the individual unique styles of artists who have flocked here, and the historic beauty and charm of a quaint and hidden country town.  Some of the individuals who are making this town so special are also the shop and gallery owners, who continue to strive to showcase hand-crafted or one-of-a-kind goods.  The town has put together quite a winter shopping experience, featuring prizes and special in-store events that truly live up to the name "Shopping Just Got Better."  Pete and I hope you'll continue to support these local merchants who put their heart and soul into everything that fills their shops.

It is our fondest wish that you will make Frenchtown, NJ one of your favorite spots to frequent.  There is truly something for everyone here, and at The National Hotel, we certainly hope to be able to welcome you to the town soon.  We hope you'll join us for dinner, drinks, come for our bi-weekly Tuesday Trivia, Open Mic Night, and/or our weekend musical programs, become a member of our monthly National Wine Club, or prolong your visit and make it an overnight trip.  For information, please continue to leave comments here, email me, visit our website, call us at 908.996.3200, or:

Find us on Facebook  Visit our blog  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTube

Thank you for your continued support and patronage.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


During this beautiful fall season, make sure to visit Hunterdon County's Frenchtown, NJ.  The town puts on its best fall colors with special decorations lining the streets and Mother Nature contributes to this autumn theme with the beautiful changing colors of the leaves that are ablaze in oranges and reds throughout our scenic winding roads as you make your way into town.

Frenchtown has something special to offer every single visitor, from the child looking for that special toy that Sunbeam Toys offers, or the children's book that can be found thanks to the learned and dedicated staff at the Book Garden, to collectibles, art, unique and individually designed and hand-crafted jewelry and furnishings, and so much more, all within this quaint, small, and easily "strollable/walkable" town.

Found this on the internet, but
I remember seeing this on fb.
Can't find the photographer's
name.  If you know the individual,
please leave me a comment so that
I can update this blog and give
credit where credit is due. Thanks!

I recently had a guest who enjoyed lunch at The National Hotel--YES!!...We launched our new fall menu last week--and it was a joy to get such wonderful feedback from her.  She also let me know that she was in love with architecture of the houses that are "behind" our downtown business district.  The truth is that it is worth the trip here to see that on its own.  The houses are just incredibly beautiful, some even painted pastel and unique colors, highlighting the period architecture, and many boast beautifully designed and maintained front gardens and back yards.  The local residents go out of their way to welcome visitors to the town, and even help them better plan their stay in town or around the area with tips, directions, and suggestions for dining or lodging.  We are so grateful to them!

And front and center of our town's "destination" revitalization, is the Frenchtown Business and Professional Association, made up of business owners who volunteer their time to promote Frenchtown, improve the relationship with our town's residents, local business entities, government officials, and visitors.  They are responsible for creating the highly successful 2nd Saturdays live music series where musicians performed all summer outside to entertain passersby, as well as numerous other initiatives, including events every weekend this month, and many more that will be planned out for the rest of the year and holiday season.  

On our end, we've got big news regarding the upcoming elections.  We'll soon be posting information on our facebook page about a little contest we're designing that might be more indicative of the outcome than some of the polls all the news channels are touting.  Visit our facebook page soon and find out!

Another area that has kept us busy, busy, busy, is selecting wines that we'll feature exclusively at The National Hotel for our monthly National Wine Club members.  Thank you to those of you who have already signed up and those who have asked for more information.  We've started contacting guests who have emailed us or have asked for additional information, so stay tuned if you are one of those individuals.  This is exciting on many levels, but more so because the impetus for creating this monthly club came from our very patrons, who wanted to experience a more intimate approach to enjoying wines, to learning about wines, and having the opportunity to meet others who are interested in wines when we have special wine tastings and exclusive events.  Launching this alongside our new fall menu, has been a labor of love, incorporating the many areas that Pete and I love, alongside our long-time Executive Chef, Lisa Frederick, and the rest of our staff.

In fact, Lisa took center stage recently, when we had the pleasure of having been chosen for a a wedding reception that took over the entire first floor of our building.  She was on top of every detail, from the decor of the food stations, to the wait staff continuing to come out of the kitchen with tray after tray of beautiful appetizers and finger food, to the main course, where she took it upon herself, alongside Pete, to personally serve each dish and plate them according to the guest's needs.  This attention to detail is what sets her apart, and what elevates the level of service at The National Hotel.  It truly was a memorable day for the bride and groom, but an equally memorable day where the staff showed Pete and me, just how capable they are, just how committed they are, and just how dedicated they are to providing exceptional service to our guests.

If you are planning on coming to Frenchtown this weekend, you're in for a treat.  Not only will the town be featuring numerous events (in-store and around the town, from face-painting to fall-themed events), but there will also be a couple of Halloween-themed events, including a Halloween Afternoon at Two Buttons, starting at 3 p.m. filled with "candy, stories, and SPOOKINESS," and follow that up with a great night of fun with our very own Halloween Celebration, downstairs in The National Hotel's cellar pub, The Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a. The Rat), where we'll start getting ready for a night of fun in the late afternoon, with music starting at 9 p.m., featuring one of our favorite bands, Rainbow Fresh.  

This is an annual celebration that just keeps getting better and better with patrons donning anything from a simple sheet with two holes cut out, to extraordinarily complex costumes.  Prizes will be given out all night for best costumes, as we all enjoy the music of Rainbow Fresh. 

October has already proven to be a beautiful month, and we've witnessed spectacularly gorgeous autumn days, perfect for sitting on The National Hotel's front porch and watching as the day goes by, to lovely days to stroll through the town and listen to the outdoor music that has been a part of our weekend activities, and now to this concluding weekend that will showcase a multitude of activities preceding Halloween.  

Photo courtesy of Paula Focazio
We even had a fantastic event that spoke volumes about our little gem of a town:  Our Mayor, Warren Cooper, married Bonnie Pariser (aka AmarJyothi), owner of Yoga Loka in town, and instead of limiting their reception to a select group of individuals, they opened up the celebration to THE ENTIRE TOWN!!  Talk about being inclusive, about being accepting, about being community-centered and community-oriented.  Unbelievable--except, totally expected and within the realm of possibility here in Frenchtown.

It's just going to get even better...November promises so much more, including something very close and dear to our heart:  Pete and I opened the doors to The National Hotel on November 3rd, 2009--and it coincides with one of our favorite nights of the month, our Monthly Music Themed Night.  Mike Pfeiffer will perform music that you will surely remember and that will take you back to that oh-so-special-night, starting at 9:30 p.m. with our star bartender, Donna Jane Sampler, mixing special drinks and serving great micro-brews on tap.  Come with your favorite songs to test Mike's knowledge!  In just a little over a week, we'll be celebrating our 3rd anniversary that YOU have made possible.  It has only been through the generosity of our friends, neighbors, and traveling guests, that has shown us day in and day out, that YOU want The National Hotel to be a part of this amazing Delaware River community.  You continue to support us, to stop by just to say "hello," to participate in our events, and to encourage us to try new things.  

All we can say is "thank you."  Truly, truly, thank you for all that you have helped us make possible, and for giving us bragging rights after just a few years.  We are so fortunate to be blessed with a wonderful and supportive staff, terrific friends, and genuinely dedicated patrons who continue to enter through our doors for lunch, dinner, drinks, activities, and even overnight stays.  Whether you know it or not, Pete and I look forward to entering this grand old lady of a building every single day, because we know how important she is to so many of you.

Thank you again.  And as always, do stay on top of all that's happening in town and in the area, by liking our facebook page, following us on twitter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, and of course, visiting our website.  If you have feedback that you'd like to share, please do post it here, or email it to me directly, or call us at 908.996.3200. We look forward to welcoming you to Frenchtown and to The National Hotel again in the near future.

Friday, September 28, 2012


Fall is finally here, and in Frenchtown, NJ, we're getting ready for a wonderful season.  This weekend the town will be hosting its first Green Fair, where we'll have an old-fashioned pie baking contest and lots of activities for all ages.  There is a schedule of events and a list of vendors posted on the Frenchtown Group's facebook page.  It all starts tomorrow, Saturday, September 29, from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. (rain or shine):

The weather report says it will clear up by tomorrow, even with all the rain our area is getting today.  How about downloading the new "Tour Guide for Cyclists" booklet from, which is a great way to see our lovely and scenic Delaware River area--and be "green" at the same time in honor of Frenchtown's Green Fair.

At The National Hotel, we'll welcome you with open arms after a long day of visiting the many vendors that will participate in the Green Fair, or after a long bike ride on the D&R Canal Towpath.  This weekend, we're featuring an array of dishes that are sure to add excitement to our regular menu, in our Additions to the Menu, including:
  • PEAR & APPLE SALAD (Bartlett Pears, Granny Smith Apples, smoked blue cheese, sliced red onions, arugula leave & pine nuts with a maple vinaigrette, topped with bacon candied pecans);
  • TUNA STEAK KADAI (Pan seared Sashimi grade Tuna with a classic coconut curry sauce over black forbidden rice & ginger braised bok choy);
  • FLANK STEAK (Flank Steak marinated & grilled to your liking, with an arugula & pumpkin seed pesto, over a sweet potato gratin);
  • and more.
We hope you'll stay in town and enjoy our Restaurant and Bar, or come downstairs to The Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a., The Rat) for great signature drinks and beers on tap.  So, even if the rain does pour or the temperatures dip, you know you'll have a great place to spend your Saturday night with old friends by your side--or new ones still to be made.  That's what has made The Rat such a favorite of our area; it welcomes you, it's inclusive, and people have made lasting friendships these last few years that have gone well beyond the walls of The National Hotel.

This very sensibility--the ability of our Frenchtown residents and business owners who welcome new faces to the town and their establishments--has actually been recognized now by the State of New Jersey.  Frenchtown is now considered one of the eight great places in the state, as was reported by the Hunterdon County Democrat this past Monday.  It definitely feels like a validation of what we constantly hear from our hotel, restaurant, and bar guests.  Congratulations to all who made this possible!
October will be a month filled with activities and changes--including the launch of our next seasonal menu, and finally, yes, finally, the launch of our monthly National Wine Club.  We wanted to get this right, to make sure we truly took in the feedback we received from so many of you who were interested in learning about it over these last couple of months, and now, it will be a reality.  We're very pleased with the choices we have lined up for the upcoming months, and we hope you too will agree.  Click here if you'd like to sign up to receive more information, or to sign up for the National Wine Club, which, for just $10/month, gets you a bottle of wine, discounts on dinner and overnight stays, exclusive invitations to wine tastings and events, as well as additional discounts.

Surely events such as this year's Frenchtown Business and Professional Association's (FBPA) Riverfest, which was such a huge success the first Sunday in September, with live music throughout the town, merchants offering special events and activities, and even the dog contest, have added to all the reasons why Frenchtown is truly a great place. And the FBPA is adding more things to the calendar, including a month-long celebration of activities, "Frenchtown in October", where every weekend there will be activities planned.  The streets are already showcasing fall decorations, thanks to the many volunteers who are members of the FBPA.

We'll also be hosting our monthly Music Themed Night downstairs in The Rat, starting at 9:30 p.m. on the first Saturday of October, featuring Mike Pfeiffer.  Get ready for a great 60s-themed night!  Mark your calendars for this night, because it never disappoints.  And, if you're planning ahead, make sure that you get ready for our annual Halloween party that will feature live music from one of our favorite bands, Rainbow Fresh, on Saturday, October 27th.  Prizes will be given for best costumes, and if last year is any indication of what is to be expected this year, we're all in for an absolutely fun time.

Do stay on top of all that's happening in town and in the area, by liking our facebook page, following us on twitter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, and of course, visiting our website.  If you have feedback that you'd like to share, please do post it here, or email it to me directly.  Thank you to all our friends and patrons who continue to support us, and who have become such an important part of our family.

Friday, July 27, 2012


July is quickly winding down and it still amazes me just how much our lives have changed in the last three years.  July 31st marks the 3rd anniversary of when we took the plunge and signed on the "dotted line".  I remember being given the set of keys to open the doors to The National Hotel.  Pete, our daughters, and I left the title company's office and drove straight to Frenchtown, NJ, whereupon we faced the daunting task of bracing ourselves for what might await inside the then shuttered building.

I think you can see the joy in these faces...the excitement...the knowledge that somehow, we were going to succeed and make this grand old lady of a building resplendent once more.

Fast forward to today, and the transformation is amazing.  So much has happened.  We're even launching our new monthly National Wine Club in September!!  I can't even believe that our patrons have always been the ones to push us, to ask us to do this or that, and that each and every time, they--YOU--are right.  You liked our menu selections and the wines we chose to complement these myriad dishes, many focusing on different ethnic flavors, and you kept asking us to do something special with this, so now we are.  Every single month, we'll feature one specific wine, offer our members exclusive additional discounts on wines and spirits from our main menu, put together member-only wine tastings, include wine notes with each of the monthly featured wines, provide our members with discounts on overnight stays, and more.  And of course, it was you who also wanted music to be part of The National Hotel and we simply said "yes."  Our patrons are the ones who organize our weekly Thursday Open Mic Night, our Bi-weekly Tuesday Trivia Night, and so many other events.  As much as Pete and I might want to take credit and pat ourselves on the back for doing this or that, the truth is that The National Hotel's patrons are the ones who have brought her back to its shiny new self.

In addition to the work done by these loyal friends of The National Hotel, I note with pride that her grandeur was always there; the foundation and structure of this 162 year-old building is solid.  It's built to withstand little blips in time when life isn't smooth sailing and it needs to await a new captain at its helm.  I see her as a great ship, one with stories of passengers traveling through their lives spending time transfixed by what she offers, from the beautiful porch out of which guests can look at passersby and enjoy the lovely summer days, to the Restaurant and Bar inside on the main floor that allows patrons to delight in traditional dishes and international culinary selections alike, while others prefer the camaraderie and casual atmosphere of our cellar pub, The Rathskeller (a.k.a. The Rat).  And, being able to utilize the top two floors to accommodate overnight guests in our ten guest suites, is just another side to the many "personalities" of The National Hotel.  There truly is something for everyone at The National Hotel.

There really is a lot happening over the summer and well into fall.  Here is a running list of what is in store these next few months.  We hope that you will be a part of it and join us for one, or many of the activities being planned with you in mind:
  • Bi-weekly Tuesday Trivia, 8 - 10 p.m., downstairs in The Rat
  • Wednesday Ladies' Night, 5 - 7 p.m., 1/2 off all drinks, downstairs in The Rat
  • Thursday Open Mic Night, 9 p.m. - closing,  downstairs in The Rat
  • Saturday Night Live Music Series, 9 - 11 p.m.,  downstairs in The Rat--every month a different theme--December will have a Holiday Music theme
  • Monthly Music Themed Night, 9 - 11 p.m., first Saturday of every month,  downstairs in The Rat
  • Sunday Musical Afternoon Series, 5 - 7 p.m., in our main Restaurant & Bar
  • August 16th - 19th, "Farm to Plate" special weekend menu, supporting local & sustainable farmers
  • August 29th, Wine Tasting in the Main Bar--call 908.996.3200 or email for information
  • September:  Back to School event/promotion - Kids Eat Free with purchase of an adult entrée, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday.
  • September 20th - 23rd, Indian Food weekend Additions to the Menu
  • October 27th, Halloween Party, 9 p.m. - closing, featuring live music,  prizes given out for best costume, downstairs in The Rat
  • November 21st, Pre-Thanksgiving Celebration, 9 p.m - closing, featuring live music,  downstairs in The Rat
Frenchtown events:
  • August 4 - Tubing For the Cause:  Delaware River Tubing will host their 11th Annual event with over 500 pink inner tubes. For more information, please visit
  • August 11th, Second Saturdays:  There will be music, refreshments, sales, demonstrations and much more, 4 - 8 p.m.  For more information, please visit
  • August 17th, Bring Your Own Cup Series:  independent film screening of "Kilowatt Ours:  A Plan to Re-energize America" at Frenchtown Borough Hall, 7 p.m.  For more information, please visit
  • September 2 - Frenchtown Riverfest "Goes To the Dogs":  12:00 - 6:00 pm there will be live music, entertainment, food, shop sales and specials, pet contest and much more.
  • September 8th, Second Saturdays:  there will be music, refreshments, sales, demonstrations and much more, 4 - 8 p.m.   For more information, please visit
  • September 21st, Bring Your Own Cup Series:  independent film screening of "City21:  Multiple Perspectives on Urban Futures" at Frenchtown Borough Hall, 7 p.m.  For more information, please visit
  • September 29 - Green Fair:  11:00 am - 6:00 pm at the Old Frenchtown Field there will be green demos and products, fun activities, good eats and musical entertainment. For more information, please visit
  • October Weekends - Frenchtown in October (4 weekends - Saturdays & Sundays):  Each weekend will have different family friendly activities with something for everyone. Restaurants will be offering special Fall menus and the streets will be lined with scarecrows.   For more information, please visit
  • November 23 - December 31 - Shopping Just Got Better:  Customers who shop at participating stores receive an entry form each time they spend $25 or more. Each winner will receive a basket full of gift certificates from participating shops throughout Frenchtown valued between $500 and $600.   For more information, please visit
Wow, look at that...a calendar full of activities in this little gem of a town, this little tiny corner of the world that never ceases to amaze me.  Thank you for all you do to make this new life of ours in Frenchtown such a joyous time, that I know we will look back upon as the years pass with fond memories.

As always, please continue to email us with your feedback, leave a comment on this blog, and stay up-to-date with everything being planned, by checking our website, calling us at 908.996.3200 or: 

Find us on Facebook  Visit our blog  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTube

 Thank you again for your continued support and patronage.

Friday, July 6, 2012


These days just couldn’t get any hotter…and yet, when I stand on the front porch of The National Hotel and see children running to the river or coming up from Nishisakawick Creek next to the Frenchtown Borough Park, where they’ve been enjoying a hot summer afternoon, I have to agree that we’re lucky to be right on the Delaware River, where we can cool off with a quick dip, a kayaking trip, or even enjoy a lazy summer day tubing down the river.

Even our patrons often choose to sit and enjoy a cool summer drink on the porch rather than be indoors with the air conditioner.  There’s something about that porch.  People just love being able to sit there, enjoy a great meal and drink, while they look at the people walking by, the vintage cars, the sports cars, the motorcycles, and of course, the cyclists that pass by Race Street

July is a really BIG month for us, and Pete and I have to thank those of you who have encouraged us for so long to take the plunge and create a monthly wine club featuring a distinctive and exclusive selection of quality wines that are affordable and varied, from around the world.  Truly, you were our inspiration.  Through these last few years that we've gotten to know each other, you have given us your feedback on what you like the best, what you’d like us to try, and what complements the intricate and delicate flavors of our dishes best.  Well, we've done it.  We've created our very own National Wine Club.

Each month, our National Wine Club members will be able to pick up one bottle of the featured wine as well as receive:
  • 10% off their ENTIRE lunch, dinner, or overnight bill on the Wednesday of the month that they come to The National Hotel to pick up their purchase;
  • discounted prices on additional purchases of additional bottles of wine or spirits at discounted prices;  
  • exclusive members-only wine tastings;
  • free tasting notes and information on the specific featured wine;
  • and more.
All this, for $10 per month.  We’re so excited about this and we’re sure that those who join will be proud to serve these selections at home and share them with their closest friends and family.  If you’re interested in joining, please call Pete at 908.996.3200 or email us for more information. 

This month Frenchtown will honestly be able to provide visitors and residents alike, with numerous opportunities to enjoy the area.  There’s the 3rd annual Gay Pride Flotilla tomorrow, that will surely be a fun way to spend the day, and you can follow this with an afternoon of shopping or strolling down our lovely Frenchtown streets, and to finish off your night, why not celebrate summer while staying cool by going downstairs to The National Hotel’s cellar pub, The Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a. The Rat), where you’ll be in for a treat, because we’ll be welcoming back Mike Pfeiffer

Mike has put together quite a menu of songs that are sure to be recognizable, part of our monthly Music Themed Nights seriesDonna Jane Sampler will be pouring our newest beers on tap that were installed just about a week ago in The Rat starting at 4 p.m., but also mixing her own special libations in sync with Mike’s special program, starting at 8 p.m., and Mike will perform from 9:30 p.m. onward.

Last night was a really great night downstairs in The Rat, where we met new musicians who made it up to Frenchtown, NJ to participate.  It’s always exciting to welcome our local artists who come week after week, and even more so when we have the opportunity to showcase our beautiful and historic establishment to new artists who come from outside our area.  Our weekly Thursday Open Mic Night has become an absolute “must attend” night for many of our local artists, and it’s a favorite of many who love to support them, and also enjoy a great night out.

On Sunday, we’ll feature John Sonntag who will entertain our Restaurant and Bar guests on the main floor, 5 – 7 p.m.  Even if they’re announcing storms on Sunday, we’ll be nice and dry inside while we close out the weekend together.  I can already taste some of the special dishes that our Executive Chef, Lisa Frederick, has created for our weekend Additions to the Menu.  This special menu always adds something exciting to our already extraordinary (if you don’t mind my boasting a bit) roster of distinctive dishes that range from the traditional to the exotic with flavors from around the world.  So if you’re in the mood for a fabulous meal to accompany the musical entertainment, why not enjoy a dish from our weekend Additions to the Menu, like:
  • Thai Watermelon Salad (watermelon, feta, arugula leaves, mint, cilantro, radish, red onion in a finger lime vinaigrette)
  • Pan-seared Halibut & Jumbo Shrimp over a coconut basmati rice with a spicy pineapple sauce and grilled scallions
  • Tofu and Eggplant marinated in a spicy Thai basic sauce, over vermicelli noodles and braised bok choy, drunken noodle style
  • And more!
Don’t forget to join in the fun on Tuesday by visiting The Rat, from 8 – 10 p.m., as we host another night of Tuesday Trivia, every other week.  This night was created by our very own Frenchtown resident, Russ Coen, who creates the questions and tallies results with the help of our General Manager, Marlon Aranha.  Whether you come by yourself and join a team, or come with friends and create your own team, make sure you put your thinking cap on!  And with Donna Jane Sampler behind the bar, even if you don’t wear your thinking cap, she’ll come up with one of her specialty drinks that will help your inhibitions disappear.

Courtesy of the FBPA & Icon Magazine
Well, we’re not done though…Frenchtown is putting on its best summer face on Saturday, July 14th, celebrating Bastille Day from 12 – 6 p.m, with a "Let Them Eat Cake" theme.  It also coincides with the town’s Second Saturdays music program ( 4 - 8 p.m.), which means there will be musicians around the town performing and entertaining our local residents and visitors alike, including Tony Kovatch and Kim Sorenson, BLISS featuring Sara Dalen and Morgan Fisher, Volcanic Eruption, Amy Rivituso, and Skye Van Saun.

Stop by The National Hotel for an evening meal and then head on over to the Frenchtown Borough Park to catch an outdoor showing of the movie "Marie Antoinette" starring Kirsten Dunst.  Bring your own chair, blanket, etc., and enjoy some snacks and refreshments that will be sold by Girl Scout Troop 1308 there...and when it's over, head on over to The Rat, for some adult refreshments to close out the night.  You might even make it to the tail end of our Saturday evening's performance that will run through 11 p.m. downstairs in The Rat.

Add to this Frenchtown’s own Green Team Bring Your Own Cup film series, featuring "Bag It" on Friday, July 20th, at 7 p.m., the 3rd Friday of every month through September.  Americans use 60,000 plastic bags every five minutes, disposable bags that are thrown away carelessly.  Where do these bags end up?  What's the human and environmental cost?  Tara Shepard, Executive Director of Sustainable Hunterdon, will lead a discussion following the film.  This is a free event that welcomes you to bring your own cup, bring treats to share, or even donations to contribute.  Sustainable Huterdon is also sponsoring a great event,, that will highlight all kinds of year-round opportunities for cyclists to enjoy relaxing as well as challenging bicycle rides in our area.  Truly, only in Frenchtown, can these programs grow out of pure inspiration and determination.  Pete and I stand in awe of what our neighbors create day in and day out.

We started the month of July with a fabulous performance by RainbowFresh who helped us celebrate July 4th a night early with a pre-Independence Day musical night.  And what a night it was!  People were dancing, moving, talking, sharing stories, and just having a great night in The Rat.  I'm editing the webclips now, so check our YouTube page to see some great future next week.  And, make sure you stay on top of all of our upcoming programs and special events by visiting our music page.

As always, please continue to email us with your feedback, leave a comment on this blog, and stay up-to-date with everything being planned, by checking our website, calling us at 908.996.3200 or: 

Find us on Facebook  Visit our blog  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTube

 Thank you again for your continued support and patronage.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Summer Has Started With the Temperatures Announcing "It's ON!"

Summer is officially here!  June is a hectic month--from wedding invitations, to end-of-the-school-year events, to charitable organizations' events.  And for Frenchtown, NJ, nothing less!  At The National Hotel, we're getting ready to launch our very own monthly National Wine Club, thanks to so many of you who have asked us to put together a selection of wines that you have come to enjoy during these nearly three years that we've been fortunate enough to be a part of Frenchtown.  It's so exciting for us to create something about which we are passionate, and that makes it an affordable and quality addition to one's lifestyle.  We've worked very hard to put this together and we'll be announcing the details very soon.  Email me if you too would like to be added to the list of patrons who have already expressed an interest in joining us.

If I tell you that we've been in the news all month, you'd be hard pressed to believe me, but it's a fact.  From a grassroots artists' movement (yarn bombers strike at sunset),

to an outdoor artist's mural to benefit the Frenchtown Elementary School's art and music program as a way to
"create a porthole back in time to show us the original inhabitants of our river valley, the Lenni Lenape Indians,"
to a cyclists' dream come true of beautiful and winding country roads, to a beautiful write-up about the different shops in town, Frenchtown has truly become a destination location.  Several of our town's establishments held special events that truly help to make Frenchtown a unique hamlet on the Delaware River, including Dions Hitchings Outdoor Gallery's Toyland Exhibition and The Book Garden (which hosted an appearance with author Dom Forker of Milford, NJ about Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams).  We even had great press coverage of an outdoor adventure company, Delaware River Tubing, which embodies summer FUN!!  And of course, being a part of The National Hotel in town, I can only say that I am so PROUD to be a part of this wonderful Delaware River town community.

There's even been a news article about Tama Matsuoka Wong, a financial services lawyer and a Hunterdon County resident who has found a way to harvest "weeds" and has partnered with some of the top restaurants in New York City, including Daniel, to take advantage of the robust flavors of some of the common plants that grow in our gardens that we discard and destroy daily.  Many of our local restaurants harvest their own herbs and greens (including The National Hotel), and this is yet another way that one of our local neighbors has taken a look at her surroundings and truly created a niche market for herself.  We applaud her!

Please forgive us for also patting our own backs, but we were chosen among very few establishments to receive a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2012!  Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to select us for an overnight experience and who have written reviews and shared your stories about The National Hotel on the TripAdvisor site, which is the world's largest site, that allows travel enthusiasts to plan the perfect get-away with trusted suggestions from other travelers.  During these last few weeks, we  were also mentioned in a couple of publications, including Bergen's Good Living Magazine, as a true family destination spot (Canal-Side Charm Meets Outdoor Adventure), and we were one of just nine areas picked!  We felt equally honored to have been selected as THE place to enjoy a great meal and wonderful drinks by Mano A Vino, as well as to read about the other establishments that help make Frenchtown a hidden gem.

The town has even started a Third Friday of the Month Independent Film Series Night that premiered this month and will continue through September.  And this follows on the heels of the town's Second Saturdays Live Outdoor Music Series where musicians perform outside and entertain visitors and residents from 6 - 8 p.m. through September.  The second Saturday of the month music program is sponsored by the Frenchtown Business and Professional Association (FBPA), that will also sponsor Bastille Day on July 14th.  There will be tons of outdoor artists performing and entertaining visitors to the town, as well as numerous in-store promotions and outdoor vendors.  Every year, the town outdoes itself and we are confident that 2012 will not be any different.

The National Hotel will also be hosting some pretty spectacular events, from a special pre-Independence Day performance by Rainbow Fresh on Tuesday, July 3rd, starting at 9 p.m., followed by our very own Monthly Music Themed Night on the first Saturday of July, the 7th, featuring one of our favorite performers, Mike Pfeiffer.  Join our mailing list and we'll keep you informed of all of the upcoming events being planned this summer.

As always, please continue to email us with your feedback, leave a comment on this blog, and stay up-to-date with everything being planned, by checking our website, calling us at 908.996.3200 or: 

Find us on Facebook  Visit our blog  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTube

 Thank you again for your continued support and patronage.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


As usual, I was rushing to get from Point A to Point B.  I'll never learn my lesson to slow down a little bit in order to finish things in a timely manner; seems counter-intuitive, but I know from experience the truth in this statement.  But when I took a little shortcut through the winding roads of Frenchtown and Kingwood, NJ, I found a totally different kind of rush hour:

 No choice but to sit back and let the large tractor in front of me drive as slow as need be in order to be safe.  I was definitely impressed by the maneuverability of the farm vehicle, scooting to the right to let oncoming cars pass by.  And yes, I was late, but I was not pulling my hair out, surprisingly.  It felt like a Zen moment, surrendering, and finally enjoying the lovely winding country roads that are so abundant in Hunterdon County, NJ.

So although I was a little late, I managed to make it for the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony in Frenchtown, NJ, where the town had the opportunity to thank the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission for funding the road work improvements in town.  We were even fortunate to have good weather to boot, which made the day's ceremony an absolute joy.

It seems as though every weekend in May has brought its own reason to celebrate.  Even this past weekend, Frenchtown was in the newspapers yet again, because a brand new and lovely bocce pavilion was built and dedicated in memory of Antonio "Tony" De Sapio.

May has truly been full of exciting activities in Frenchtown, from celebrating Mother's Day with so many friends and patrons, to kicking off the town's monthly Second Saturday event sponsored by the Frenchtown Business and Professional Association (FBPA) that runs into September and which features local shops and galleries closing later while musicians perform throughout the town from 6 - 8 p.m.  It was also the month when the entire town got together to support the book launch of Home on the Range,  by one of its most famous residents, Elizabeth Gilbert--but moreover, it was truly an honor for the town to have been included in this book launch celebration, invited to participate, in fact, by the author herself.  It was a great opportunity to showcase the lovely recipes included in her newest book that weaves stories about her great-grandmother while sharing the recipes that she created decades ago.  Throughout Frenchtown, shops took on a recipe (or more) from the book, and had these goodies as a focal point for the entire weekend, while Liz Gilbert signed copies of her book on Saturday and Sunday, at the lovely and unique shop she and her husband, José Nunes own, Two Buttons.  They arranged for special parking spots, had a limousine driving guests from those spots right into town, and everyone had a wonderful time.  At The National Hotel, we planned our entire Additions to the Menu for the weekend based on recipes from her book.  These included:

Jamaican Rum, Cognac, Peach Brandy “So keep a watchful eye on any rich unsophisticated maiden aunt’s trips to the source of supply” 

Frenchtown’s own garden greens, fresh radish, spring onions, sliced tomatoes & cucumbers, with Margaret’s tangy tarragon vinaigrette 

Slow stewed country chicken served with corn fritter & basil buttered asparagus 
...and many other dishes exclusively available the weekend of May 18th.

Thank you, Liz Gilbert, for sharing your new book with Frenchtown, and for allowing The National Hotel to feature so many of the recipes in your book.  Our Executive Chef, Lisa Frederick, had a wonderful time reading the book, playing with the recipe choices, and ultimately crafting a menu that we feel paid homage to the spirit of Liz Gilbert's great-grandmother, Margaret Yardley Potter.

Just like this though, every weekend The National Hotel features an exclusive Additions to the Menu selection that make it a favorite of the area.  Our Executive Chef makes it a point to support local and sustainable farmers, and has also started her own garden right on our premises.  Can you say "FRESH"!!

May was also the month that we learned about a resident artist who has quietly built a following that makes him one of the most sought-after tattoo artists on the East Coast.  So much so, that filmmaker Jon Reino created a film documenting Rich Cahill's work.  Whether you like tattoos or not, the fact that Frenchtown is consistently producing such talented, creative, and influential artists is very telling.  Those of us fortunate to be around these individuals know that they are passionate about their craft, that they have true talent and even a calling to continue to produce a work product that stands out and is a snapshot of their inner soul.  What's even more telling about the type of individuals they are, is the humility with which they accept and embrace their status, always caring about their town, always demonstrating that it's about community first and their own personal glory second.

We even had the good fortune to have two of our very own Frenchtown local poets, Warren Cooper (journalist, adjunct professor...oh, and yes, Mayor of Frenchtown to boot!) and Ray Brown, participate in Bill's Figs poetry festival last weekend in Raritan Township:

"The three featured poets are Adrian ThePen Bautista of Philadelphia and Warren Cooper and Ray Brown of Frenchtown. The readings will be followed by an open mic during which other poets, Spoken Word Artists and members of the audience will read their own poems."--as seen in
Looking ahead to June and July, these months promise to bring all of us many opportunities to reconnect and to renew our promises to stay in touch.  There's a dedication for the Lenni Lenape Wall Mural that was lovingly painted by Adrienne Crombie and Don Dalen.  Those of us who are in Frenchtown day in and day out, know how painstakingly they've worked on the details, on putting meaning to every creature they painted on that wall.  It's truly a work of art, and if you can stop by to see it, dwell a while, and think about the wolf, the turtle, the turkey--all representatives of clans.  On Saturday, June 2nd, there will be a special ceremony in the Frenchtown Park at 11 a.m. off Kingwood Avenue (at the end of Route 12 in Frenchtown), where there will be a Lenape story teller, a drumming circle hosted by the Mankind Project, and healthy snacks donated by ShopRite.  Definitely a day that promises to be full of memories to be made.

The warm weather months always invite people to stay out a little later, to prolong conversations, to take longer walks, and in our case, having the Delaware River as one of the center pieces of our town, to congregate together just having FUN!  There are so many activities to do in Frenchtown and the surrounding areas.  We try to update our website frequently to record Things to Do on our Concierge page.  Please continue to let us know if we should add another activity that you've tried or another event that we should feature.  And don't forget to check our Music pages to get the latest line-up of artists who will be at The National Hotel to entertain you, as well as to make plans to attend our Monthly Music Themed Nights--always the first Saturday of the month.  We've done the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, Holiday Music, and even Country--all with our patrons coming in era-inspired outfits, music requests, and cameras in hand...what will Mike Pfeiffer think of next?

As always, please continue to email us with your feedback, leave a comment on this blog, and stay up-to-date with everything being planned, by checking our website, calling us at 908.996.3200 or: 

Find us on Facebook  Visit our blog  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTube

 Thank you again.