Monday, December 30, 2013

GOOD-BYE 2013...HELLO 2014!!

Pete and I are so excited to celebrate the birth of the New Year with you at The National Hotel!  Thank you to so many of you who have already RSVP'd for tomorrow night's celebration in The Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a. The Rat), starting at 9:30 p.m.! We have just a handful of tickets left--as in just 4!!--because we are limiting the number of people so that those who registered can truly enjoy our featured musicians, Rainbow Fresh!!  If you didn't sign up and are interested, please call 908.996.3200 tomorrow morning, in case any spots remain.  With a humble door fee of $10 per person in advance and $15 at the door, we knew this would be a sold-out event, and still allow everyone to enjoy a special night with an area favorite.

And to boot, by popular request:

The National Hotel's main Bar will be open on Wednesday, New Year's day, from 3 p.m. - 8 p.m.  Sorry, but our kitchen staff needs a day off after the 31st, so we will not be offering food, except for the "liquid" kind.  Now that's the way to keep the celebratory mood going right into 2014!!

To bring this full circle, I recently heard someone say that the holiday season is the closing punctuation to the year, where we are forced to stop what we are doing, give thanks, and take the time to breathe and be with friends and family.  I found this to be incredibly poignant.  How true it is that the month of December captivates all of us, with people of different faiths reuniting with their families, friends, neighbors...building community.  This speaks volumes about how Pete and I look at our roles as proprietors of The National Hotel:  Community.  We thank you for a blessed 2013 that you have made so special for us, for our staff, and for other patrons.  Your support has carried us through our 5th holiday season at The National Hotel, and has allowed us to have great expectations for the New Year ahead.

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow and into the New Year.  Don't forget about our "regularly scheduled programs," including:

If you'd like to make it a get-away week, be sure to call us at 908.996.3200 or email us to make your reservation.  We have wonderful overnight packages including one for this special time of year.

Overall, whether it's a night out or an overnight stay, our patrons make The National Hotel what it is today--and continue to add to its many years of history.  It all comes down to COMMUNITY.  And, we are so fortunate to be right smack in the middle of the best group of people with whom we've ever shared our lives, from patrons, to musicians, to neighbors, to staff.  Thank you!

As we approach the very last days of this year, Pete and I want to thank you again for your patronage and support.  You buoy our spirits, and we will carry this immensely satisfying feeling well into 2014!  Happy New Year to you and yours!!

Please do email me with any feedback or questions, or leave a comment on this blog.  You can also reach us at 908.996.3200, or fill out our guest inquiry page on our website.  Stay up-to-date with all of the activities and programs we have planned for this special season:

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Thank you again.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


It feels as if once we get to the end of November, the days just fly by.  This week we had such a great time at our annual Pre-Thanksgiving Celebration featuring The Bad Hands, who entertained us through the midnight hour, helping us all get into the right frame of mind as we said goodnight and went home to prepare for Thanksgiving.  Pete and I are so grateful to our wonderful staff who are keen to please our patrons and make sure each and every single one has a terrific experience at The National Hotel.  A well-deserved day off was quite welcome to us all the day before yesterday.  Re-energized, we returned to work yesterday, and today, we join our local merchants in supporting the annual Shop Small initiative.  This "fits" Frenchtown, NJ exquisitely.  It's as if it was made with Frenchtown in mind.

Just take a stroll around the main streets, Race Street and Bridge Street--and continue to explore Trenton Avenue and Harrison Street--and you'll see the unique shops and galleries, each one with owners who are passionate about what they do and what they offer their customers.  There are artisans carving one-of-a-kind wood accessories and furniture pieces, there are jewelers with hand-crafted items, home accessory stores that each are different and will transform your home into a completely unique environment, clothing boutiques, and much more.  It just never ceases to amaze me, that I am this close to so much talent.

I am truly blessed and fortunate to be part of this diverse and creative community, and I hope that as you do your holiday shopping, you remember to visit and support these local shops.  As a small "plug" for us:  Why not give the gift of a great meal or an overnight stay to your loved ones, by purchasing a gift certificate.  That is one gift that you can rest assured will create fond memories far into the future, because nothing can replace the wonderful experience of dining together, sharing a memorable conversation, and letting the time slip away as you are transported to a bygone era sitting in the historic ambiance of The National Hotel.

Historic and creative are the right words to describe our artistic community, that shares its talent at The National Hotel week in and week out.  We have terrific talent from both sides of the Delaware River that perform at our establishment:

  • weekly Thursday Open Mic Night
  • bi-weekly Tuesday Trivia hosted by Russ Coen and our General Manager, Marlon Aranha; 
  • weekly Saturday Night Live Music series (don't miss tonight's foot-stomping, crowd-pleasing band, the Eastern Hellbenders);
  • weekly Sunday Afternoon Music series (and tomorrow is NOT TO BE MISSED:  Carol Thompson and Friends Holiday Special);
  • monthly Saturday Night Music Themed Night, featuring Mike Pfeiffer.
Pete and I hope that you are all enjoying the start to the holiday season--and what a way to kick it off, having Thanksgiving and Hanukkah take place at the same time.  For those already getting ready for Christmas, we send you our best wishes for a terrific holiday season, as we finish off the month of November today and jump right into December.  We are so grateful to you for your tireless commitment to and patronage of The National Hotel.  Your feedback is always so encouraging and helpful.  Please continue to email us, write in our hotel guest book, and fill out our restaurant cards.  It is because of you that this chapter in our lives is such a joyous one, every single day filling us with a sense of accomplishment, and the feeling that we are at the right place at the right time, with the best people on this planet.

I always take this season to heart, and take the opportunity to reflect on the importance of how much my family means to me, and my extended family of friends and neighbors--each of you matter--and how grateful Pete and I are for all that you do to support us and all of the small shops around Frenchtown and our neighboring areas.  The Frenchtown community continues to go out of its way to help the less fortunate, including one today, by Bill Brokaw Photography, where $20 gets you a family portrait to benefit the Frenchtown Food Bank.  Get more information on the Frenchtown fb Group page, including information on the Menorah Lighting ceremony that happened a few days ago, Yoga Loka's fundraiser, the annual Christmas Tree lighting on December 7th starting at 5 p.m., and more.  The Frenchtown Fire Department will also host a special meet-Santa day on December 14th at 7:30 p.m., with goodies given away to kids. 

Pete and I look forward to welcoming you to The National Hotel soon.  We thank you again for your support and patronage, and wish you a wonderful weekend and holiday season.  Please do email me with any feedback or questions, or leave a comment on this blog.  You can also reach us at 908.996.3200, or fill out our guest inquiry page on our website.  Stay up-to-date with all of the activities and programs we have planned for this special season:

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Thank you again.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


We had family from Chile who visited us last week, and I had the great pleasure of welcoming them to Frenchtown, NJ.  It was such a treat to be able to show them my little hidden gem of a town--from the natural beauty of the Delaware River, walking paths, and scenic country routes, to the splendor of the town's businesses all ablaze with fall colors and decorations.  I was inspired by the shops' variety of merchandise, but moreover, by the shop owners themselves.  The owners of each unique gallery, shop, and boutique, invited us into their space with warmth and genuine interest in learning about my family.  "Where did they come from?"  "How long will they be in town?"  "Is this their first visit to Frenchtown?"  "Have they already been here or there?"

There truly aren't too many places where one can be made to feel so special by complete strangers.  These inquiries were genuine and their interest in making sure that my relatives enjoy their visit, was authentic.  This was an unplanned acknowledgement of everything I had shared with my family all these years about Frenchtown and the joy it brought us after Pete and I took ownership of The National Hotel and became part of the community.

This coming Sunday, November 3rd, will mark FOUR years since we opened our doors in 2009.  With no advertising, just word of mouth, we quietly opened this grand old building and our first guest wandered into The Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a. The Rat).  With a look of true happiness, he had a drink and exclaimed, "Running across the street to vote.  I'll be back."  And when he came back, others had joined him...and others...and others...Today, we still enjoy the patronage of that very first guest, and so many of you.  Thank you for making the last four years an absolute adventure, that allowed Pete and me to build a new life among you.
Halloween 2012
I'm particularly pleased with the way the calendar worked out this year.  Our annual Halloween party landed on Saturday, November 2nd.  That means, we'll be celebrating our fourth anniversary that night right after midnight--costumes and all! Having booked Rainbow Fresh for the Halloween party, we are all sure to be in a festive mood all night, and I cannot wait to see what our patrons will wear this year!  Remember, prizes will be given out for best costumes (individual and couples).  Come early for a great time hosted by our bartender extraordinaire, Donna Jane Sampler.
Last year, she had a terrific mix of music that everyone enjoyed leading up to the live music performance by Rainbow Fresh.  Guests ordered micro brews and beers on tap, as well as other drinks.  I wonder what specialty shots Donna will create this year?

We'll need to keep up the good spirits on Sunday, because we'll be enjoying the first Additions to the Menu selections since launching our new Fall Menu last week.  Thank you to all of you who have already left us feedback on our facebook page or told us in person how much you enjoyed your dining experience.  We're so glad that you liked the new choices, like the Arugula & Pancetta Salad and the Lamb Shank.

Arugula Salad (Arugula, Pancetta Crisps, Blue Cheese Crumbles, Strawberry Honey Vinaigrette) 

16 oz. Lamb Shank (Slow-Roasted with Onions, Carrots, Celery, Garlic and Mediterranean Spices, Couscous with Currants and Dates) 
We also heard you loud and clear, and made sure to keep the favorites untouched (e.g., The National Burger, Fish and Chips, Spicy Tuna with Lotus Chips, and more).  You'll have a chance to try these dishes all week, and/or choose something from our Additions to the Menu all weekend.

There's a lot planned for November, so do check our music pages frequently for our calendar of musicians and special events.  We'll keep this tradition of music at The National Hotel going throughout the upcoming months, with our weekly Thursday Open Mic Night, our Saturday Night Live Music series, our Sunday Musical Afternoons, our Bi-Weekly Tuesday Trivia (next installment:  November 5th), and some special Wednesday events coming up next month and into the new year.

It's a privilege to be able to write this blog and know that the commitment we made four years ago, is part of the fabric of The National Hotel, with music and special events making it a community center of sorts, an inter-generational meeting spot, with something for everyone.  I just love that!

Please do email me with any feedback or questions, or leave a comment on this blog.  You can also reach us at 908.996.3200, or fill out our guest inquiry page on our website.  Stay up-to-date with all of the activities and programs we have planned for the fall:

Find us on Facebook  Visit our blog  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTubeFind us on Google+

Thank you.

Monday, September 30, 2013


Fall in Hunterdon County, NJ is an absolute joy!  From the hot air balloons that fly overhead and add blazing colors to the skyline, to the beautiful colors that nature provides us wherever we look  And, as we get ready to welcome in the month of October, Frenchtown itself has numerous activities that are sure to please everyone, regardless of age.  

Every Saturday and Sunday in October, (5-6, 12-13, 19-20, and 26-27), Frenchtown will feature numerous activities and in-store offers throughout the town, sponsored by the Frenchtown Business and Professional Association (FBPA).  The town will be decorated thanks in part to the very children of the town, who are working with their local school to create some of the beautiful displays.

There's nothing better than making plans to visit a special part of our area, and having the sights and activities surpass one's expectations.  That's what we continue to hear from our Restaurant and Bar guests, as well as our overnight guests, who take the time to share their recent experiences at The National Hotel.  I had the pleasure of reading this review recently posted on TripAdvisor ("A Delaware River Landmark") about The National Hotel, written by a Frenchtown resident, and it struck me that the warmth with which it is written is exactly what our Frenchtown neighbors share day in and day out, be it with other residents of the area, as well as with people visiting this lovely hamlet.  

We learn of the many beautiful activities that they have been able to experience--from renting a bicycle from the Cycle Corner and riding down the beautifully maintained tow path that runs parallel to the Delaware River, to seeing a polo match right across the river in Tinicum Park, PA.  It's literally a 5-minute drive from The National Hotel, and it's an exhilarating experience to be able to drive in and "tailgate" a polo match!  Or, you can also arrange seasonal spots under the white tents near the announcer by contacting them directly.  Their last match of the season is this coming weekend, the 5th of October, and they will have a British Car Show to boot!

That same night, The National Hotel will again host Mike Pfeiffer, as he turns its cellar pub, The Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a. The Rat), into a standing-room only music venue, starting at 9:30 p.m.  Each month, on the first Saturday of the month, Mike surprises our patrons with a new selection of the type of music that gets your feet moving and your cares disappear.  The Rat fills up earlier, because our star bartender, Donna Jane Sampler, gets everyone in the right mood with special drinks, beers on tap, her own mix of music, and great conversation.  It's one of our favorite nights of the month!

And there's a lot more music planned for October (and into November) in The Rat:
  • October 12th - David Turner
  • October 19th - Ray McGeehan
  • October 26th - Mike for The Good/Frost Project
  • November 2nd - annual HALLOWEEN @THE RAT, featuring RAINBOW FRESH THE BAND
We also have music every Sunday afternoon in our main Restaurant and Bar:
  • October 6th - Scott and Paige
  • October 13th - John Sonntag
  • October 20th - Dennis Mascarone
  • October 27th - Arnie Baird
Don't forget about our Bi-Weekly Tuesday Trivia too.  This terrific and engaging evening of fun was created by Frenchtown resident, Russ Coen, and with Marlon Aranha's cooperation, continues to be a night that draws new people as well as old friends.  It's "on" this week, Tuesday, October 1st, 8 - 10 p.m.

Best of all, you can count on an exceptional time whenever you visit Frenchtown.  The people are friendly, the shops and galleries are exquisite and unique, and there are so many activities that will fulfill everyone's desires for a special time away from the daily grind.  There are river activities, there's hiking (and thanks to the Hunterdon Land Trust, 313-acre Horseshoe Bend Park is a quick drive from The National Hotel, and offers some of the best trails and vistas of the area), there are nature trails, there are yoga studios, pilates studios, high-end's an amazing compilation of things to do, from the micro to the macro, all in this little hidden gem of a town.  We've partnered with a few of the businesses that provide some of these services, so that our overnight guests can receive special discounts for yoga sessions at Yoga Loka, pilates classes at HardCore Pilates, and even spa treatments at Euphoria Studio.  Our concierge is always ready to make arrangements for services in our rooms, or at the studios themselves.

There'll be more to share next month, but as a "sneak peak," I'll mention that we will launch our new Fall menu later in October, where we will continue to support local and sustainable farmers--we're incredibly excited about this next menu and we hope you'll agree once you try some the new items there that take advantage of the seasonal produce of the area.  We'll also feature a new wine selection for our National Wine Club members...and, mark your calendars for November 2nd, for The National Hotel's annual HALLOWEEN PARTY in The Rat!!

Pete and I are always talking about the beauty of the area, and moreover, the beauty of the people.  How can we say thank you enough, to those who come from far-away for an overnight stay to this area, as well as to those from our very own town that continue to support our historic establishment.  We are just incredibly grateful to you for all your continued support!
Please do email me with any feedback or questions, or leave a comment on this blog.  You can also reach us at 908.996.3200, or fill out our guest inquiry page on our website.  Stay up-to-date with all of the activities and programs we have planned for the summer:

Find us on Facebook  Visit our blog  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTubeFind us on Google+

Saturday, August 31, 2013


Leaving the rushed streets of the surrounding cities for the tranquil scenes of Hunterdon County, NJ.  I am thoroughly looking forward to this long weekend!


It's not the end of summer yet, but somehow it just feels like it.  Labor Day weekend is always bittersweet, because it's usually the last "free" weekend of the season, when many people travel, visit loved ones, spend more time outdoors, and for many parents and students, it signifies the beginning of the school year.

One thing I can always count on to buoy my spirits, is Frenchtown's annual Riverfest.  Each year, it seems to get more and more organized, have greater outreach, and even more live outdoor music throughout the town.  It's an all-day festival with fun for the whole family.  If you're coming to town, please stop by Frenchtown's weekly Sunday Farmer's Market.  This is a terrific way to support local farmers and purveyors, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.  A key element of The National Hotel's vision is to support local and sustainable farmers--you can taste these locally sourced ingredients in all our dishes, especially our weekend Additions to the Menu that take advantage of the area's bountiful supply of farm-fresh items.

With The National Hotel open for nearly four years, I remember Labor Day weekend of 2009, when Pete and I, along with our General Manager, Marlon Aranha, were working at a feverish pace to make the renovations and repairs that would allow us to share this Frenchtown historic anchor business with the community.  I remember the people who walked by our front porch as we painted, weeded, planted, etc.--many stopping, genuinely excited about the prospects; many sharing their own personal stories about when they first set foot in the building; and many outside visitors strolling through the town taking it all in.

One particular memory I have is talking to one such visitor to our little town, Rich Connolly, and catching my breath from the work at hand, we struck up a conversation.  He had been friends with Claiborne Cary, former owner of The National Hotel in the 1970s, and sister of actress Cloris Leachman.  He shared stories about the days when Claiborne owned the hotel, about the Cabaret Nights she held coming down the stairs in a long evening dress and performing alongside her friends, Valerie Harper, Mary Tyler Moore, and Merv Griffin.  He posted these pictures of his friend, Claiborne, on our facebook page after Claiborne passed away in 2010.  His tribute to her time at The National Hotel was incredibly moving, and I cannot thank him enough for sharing his precious memories with us:
Music filled the building during those years.  I promised him that our goal was to continue this tradition of music and support of the arts at The National Hotel, albeit hardly at that former scale.  And these many years later, I am so glad that our commitment continues with the support, encouragement, and initiative of our Frenchtown and area neighbors.  This Saturday night, we'll feature the return of a favorite duo,
Dennis Mascarpone and Sue Hladik, part of our weekly Saturday Night Live Music series in The Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a., The Rat).

Dennis and Sue
Dennis, Sue, Pete, and I were invited a couple of years ago to WDVR's Friday Bleeker Street Cafe session hosted by Chris Poh and Ed Petersen, and it was such a treat to watch them perform in the studio--and it continues to be a treat every time they perform at The National Hotel.  Our schedule of music (from weekly Thursday Open Mic Night--started by Frenchtown's own Alex Wolfson, to weekly Sunday Musical Afternoons, and special Wednesday Hump Day Music) are always posted on our website.  Tuesday Trivia Night continues to have a solid following by patrons from both sides of the Delaware River--and it's truly a special night, hosted and organized completely by one of Frenchtown's favorite residents, Russ Coen, and our General Manager, Marlon Aranha.

I feel like I've come full circle this weekend, remembering all the wonderful people who helped us along the way, who continue to be a part of our lives.  From friends volunteering to help us paint, help us clean, help us change the building from years of neglect to what it is now, I continue to be amazed at the absolute love and devotion that the community has for this historic establishment.  Come on out this weekend and enjoy this lovely part of our country.  There's a lot to do, if that's what you choose, but this area is also fantastic for just enjoying nature, the outdoors, the scenic vistas of the river, and taking in "life."

Pete and I continue to be grateful and in awe of everything our area neighbors continue to give to us, from their patronage to their words of encouragement and support.  Having the pleasure of growing our circle of friends to include the many out-of-town visitors who come spend a day near the Delaware River, or who make their visit an overnight stay in Frenchtown, is an added bonus to our involvement with The National Hotel.  Thank you again.

Please continue to email me with any feedback or questions, or leave a comment on this blog.  You can also reach us at 908.996.3200, or fill out our guest inquiry page on our website.  Stay up-to-date with all of the activities and programs we have planned for the summer:

Find us on Facebook  Visit our blog  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTubeFind us on Google+