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 entrĂ©e, 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.