Sunday, March 2, 2014

THERE'S SO MUCH THAT FRENCHTOWN OFFERS!

February came and went leaving us all craving a little bit of spring.  Today, we were given a little respite from the cold temperatures of the last week of February, only to be reminded that winter is not yet over; there's a storm heading our way.  Hopefully, we'll be spared the magnitude originally predicted.  All I hear at The National Hotel from our patrons, is that they are "DONE" with winter; the shoveling; the ice; the treacherous driving conditions.  We have to agree.  It's time for a little bit of spring.  However, I also remind myself that one of the reasons we live in the northeast of the US, is precisely because we love experiencing each one of the four seasons.  There is an absolute beauty to winter that is just breathtaking.

    

And let's not forget that this area produced two Olympians who recently competed in the Sochi Winter Olympics:  Kyle Carr and Chris Creveling.  Creveling was part of silver medal team in short track.  How proud they must be; how proud this little town is of them, as they both frequented the Frenchtown Roller Rink and participated in speed skating competitions.  Amazing!


Today, as we welcomed our lunch guests to our Restaurant & Bar, I saw just how grateful they were for the warm winter drinks--Mulled Wine!!--and the hot dishes from our Additions to the Menu and our main menu that came out of the kitchen.  It is such a privilege to be able to welcome new friends and old friends to The National Hotel, to provide them with a little escape from the daily grind, from house chores, from "routine."  And, to be located in such a beautiful little gem of a town with all that it offers its residents and visitors alike, is like winning the lottery.  There are many small towns all over the country, but there is something uniquely intimate and welcoming about Frenchtown, NJ.  It's a place where you can enjoy a day of shopping--or, a day outdoors walking or cycling right next to the Delaware River, or hiking nearby on the 300+-acre preserved Horseshoe Bend Park.  In other words, there's a little bit of heaven right here, fulfilling everyone's desires.

We're featuring David Turner this afternoon, 5 - 7 p.m., part of our Sunday Musical Afternoon Series.  There's always something special happening at The National Hotel--and that's probably why we've been nicknamed the area's "Late Night Destination."  Between our Bi-Weekly Tuesday Trivia Night, our Weekly Thursday Open Mic Night, our Saturday Night Live Music Series, and of course, our Sunday program, there's always something to do in town.

Have you had a chance to stop in pick up a book from our town's favorite book shop, The Book Garden?  They offer writing classes, meet-the-author events, etc.  And it's housed in a beautifully maintained building just a few blocks from The National Hotel.

What about Designs for Tranquility, with its lovely paintings, water fountains, jewelry, and small accessories?  Owner, Jill Paul, and her husband, Russ Hoge, go out of their way to select items that are meaningful, unique, and handmade.  I've always loved entering their lovely shop and chatting with them; they are so passionate about the beautiful items they carry.

And like these two shops, there are many others in town that will surely brighten a somewhat bleak day, fill you with ideas, and encourage you to come back.  That's the underlying lovely principle that you'll find everywhere you go in Frenchtown:  People here want you to visit, want you to linger, want you to stay!

So if the Frenchtown "bug" has bitten you and you want to make this a place you'll visit more often, give us a call (908.996.3200) and make it an overnight stay.  Our knowledgeable concierge will help you select the guest suite that best fits your needs, as well as help you make the most of your stay, including just how to add special packages like yoga sessions, pilates, etc.  As a small establishment in a small town, we know how important YOU are, and we will do everything possible to make your stay with us a memorable experience that will make you want to return to Frenchtown.

Pete and I hope to see you in Frenchtown and at The National Hotel in the near future.  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:

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

Thank you again.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

COULD IT GET ANY COLDER?

January always signifies a fresh start to me--even with these sub-zero wind chill temps.  I'm looking forward to listening to Rob Lanter's music this afternoon, to help me take the chill off the day and reconcile so much that's happened!  Each new year is an opportunity to assess goals and plans.  Interestingly, reflecting back is also a part of the process, and one thing that sticks with me is the topic of a meeting I attended last year while wearing my other hat as a fundraiser in the not-for-profit world, where we discussed the concept of "Joy" in the workplace.  Even though, I confess, I was somewhat skeptical, it made me think of my work at The National Hotel.  There isn't a moment when I'm working here that I don't experience a sense of pride, a sense of fulfillment, and the absolute joy of having the privilege of being able to work to bring this historic establishment well into the 21st century, while preserving the legacy of the original family who built it and proudly operated it back in the mid-1800s.


Joyful.  Yes, that's definitely the correct way to describe how Pete and I feel.  Joyful, when we have the opportunity to share our passion with our patrons and friends.  Joyful, when we are able to source items from local and sustainable farmers for our menu, allowing us to contribute to our local economy in a meaningful way, while providing our Restaurant patrons with the freshest ingredients, especially as we planned and worked on our Valentine's Day menu.  Here's my plug:  Reserve your table NOW!


Joyful, when our guests recount stories about The National Hotel from years gone by--this oral history is an invaluable part of The National Hotel's history.  Joyful, when our overnight guests write notes in our guest book that describe why they enjoyed their stay, whether it be the food, the hospitality, or the weekly entertainment--and often, how they can't wait to plan their next trip to Frenchtown, NJ and The National Hotel.  Just plain joyful!

Photo courtesy of Borough
of Frenchtown website
And why not?  There are so many things to do in our area, so many possibilities of how to add a true quality of life factor to one's experience in Frenchtown, that it is no wonder that guest after guest conveys their desire to return.  As a quick example, how about the free ice-skating "rink" that just opened in town, thanks to the Frenchtown Fire Department and the town government.  Last night's opening night was a huge success, a real old-fashioned small-town moment that brought young and old out, even with the cold temperatures, to enjoy a slice of Americana, with a bonfire to boot!  Truly, Frenchtown is a unique hidden gem, filled with artists, one-of-a-kind shops and galleries, activities to please the soul, body, and mind, from relaxation workshops, to a high-end spa right in town, to fitness studios offering yoga, pilates, and more--all with the personal touch and attention to detail that can only be possible by having the proprietors deeply involved in their establishments and in the community.

And speaking of community, let's take a moment to acknowledge the work the Frenchtown police department did during the storms:  They delivered prescription medications to those who couldn't drive in the inclement weather, especially the elderly Frenchtown residents and those whose health prevented them from leaving their homes.  There are so many wonderful people in town, helping each other, being "neighborly" to neighbors and visitors alike.  We are lucky, really fortunate to enjoy the benefits of being a part of this small town.
A small town, in fact, nestled in an absolutely beautiful and pristine area.  Let's not forget just how beautiful a simple walk on the Delaware Towpath can be--parallel to the Delaware River, peaceful, lovely--especially with the sun setting west of the river.  And now, with all the snow (even with the shoveling that goes along with it), the area can aptly claim its name of a "winter wonderland."  Those of us who have the privilege of calling this area our home, are blessed indeed, as are those of you who are fortunate enough to have discovered Frenchtown and the surrounding areas, with each season bringing a new dynamic and a different experience to your visit.

Pete and I hope that 2014 has started for you in a remarkable way, full of promise and renewal.  We hope to see you in Frenchtown and at The National Hotel in the near future.  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:

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

Thank you again.

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:

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

Thank you again.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

ALMOST DECEMBER...


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:


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

Thank you again.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

4th ANNIVERSARY AND HALLOWEEN CELEBRATION IN 1 WEEKEND!!

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

THE AIR IS CRISP, THE SUN IS BRIGHT, AND THERE'S NO BETTER TIME TO VISIT FRENCHTOWN


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 spas...it'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+