Sunday, November 30, 2008

Winter events at the Hotel Charlotte

Here's the scoop on a few of the happenings in the area and at the Charlotte this winter. If you can't make it to the Charlotte yourself, many of these events make a one of a kind holiday gift, give us a call and we will make a wonderful holiday gift basket for you!

Bird Watching in the Sierra Nevada Groveland's Christmas Bird Count on 12/27 Groveland has an active Chapter in the Centeral Sierra Audubon Society and has scheduled their annual Christmas Bird Count for December 27th. What a fantastic way to spend one of your Holiday days! Make us part of your plans. To reserve your spot, contact Bill Zachman. More info:

Restaurant Specials: We are offering several fall-winter specials in the restaurant on Thursday and Sunday nights through the first week of January and some great holiday menus for the coming festive season. We hope you will join us for one or all of these!
  • Thursday Nights: Gift Certificate Redemption Night Valid through 1/1/2009Join us for dinner on Thursdays, use your gift certificates and we will apply 5% more to the value of your gift certificate. (No cash back when your giftcertificate is worth more than your dinner, bring extra people!)
  • Sunday Nights: Courses of Course! & Clear the Cellar Night Valid through 1/4/2009We are offering a 3-course dinner of soup or house salad, a 5oz bacon wrapped filet mignon & homemade ice-cream, coffee or tea for $19.95. Add a bottle of wine from our select vintages from $15, (the price of a bottle of house wine and only while supplies last) We have a few great wines in small quantities to share so we can make room for new vintages. The list will change weekly.

Christmas Dinner: Since Christmas falls on a Thursday this year, we will be open for dinner, 5:30 to 8:30. Christmas Eve the restaurant is closed, leaving that night to our staff to enjoy their own families and hope to serve you and your families on Christmas night after all the festivities have wrapped up for the day. We will serve from our regular menu and regular prices with a couple of specials, perhaps something like lobster, king crab legs or venison rack.

New Year's Eve Menu: Consider joining us for the early seatings, starting from 5:30 pm on Wednesday, December 31st. Perfect for those who like the party, but not the late hour of Midnight. The menu choices are:
Lobster bisque or wilted spinach and blue cheese salad
Entrée choices:

  • $39 Stuffed Guinea Hen with plum sauce
  • $49 Filet Mignon with a port wine and Porcini mushroom sauce
  • $49 Ostrich Filet (a tender red meat) with black cherry sauce
  • $49 Petite Lobster tail with drawn butter
  • $19 Add a lobster tail to any entrée for an extra $19.
Dessert: Napoleon
A Glass of Champagne with Dessert
Coffee, tea or iced tea included

Charlotte Winter Entertainment Schedule is coming together with the following dates already confirmed and more to come! All of these events qualify for our stay & play room rates of $89 per room, breakfast included for 2 people.

  • Saturday, February 14th: Valentine's Dinner
  • Sunday, February 22nd: Sipping Amador, a wine dinner with Nicole Darracq, our favorite Sommelier
  • Sunday, March 1st: Chianti & Crab Feast, Caesar Salad, 1/2 Crab Chiappino, Garlic bread, 1/2 a bottle of Chianti & Tirimasu for dessert. $29 tax and tip included
  • Sunday, March 8th, Cabaret with Dennis Brown & Friends, a whole new show
  • Sunday, March 22nd: Sipping El Dorado, the last of the Sipping through the Sierra Series with Nicole
  • Friday, March 27th: Pine Cone Players Gala Dinner-Theatre for the world Premier of Groveland's got Talent
  • Sunday, April 5th, Cabaret with Dennis Brown & Friends, a reprise of the March show for those who were out of town for that date.
By the way, any of these events can be made into a perfect holiday gift package for everyone you know--Let us help!

Hotel Charlotte named business of the year

This was an exciting bit of news to cross my desk this morning! We were recognized at the annual gala, but hadn't received a press release. It makes us feel big time!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 30, 2008

CONTACT: Jeannie Tasker – (209) 962-7163
Yosemite Chamber of Commerce


The Hotel Charlotte in downtown Groveland, CA was recently named the 2008 Business of the Year by the Yosemite Chamber of Commerce. In the Chamber’s first ever members’ choice recognition program, the Hotel Charlotte received the greatest number of votes over a seven month period, a testimony to the welcoming atmosphere of the hotel and delicious offerings of its restaurant. The honor also acknowledges the contributions to the community made by the owners of the Hotel Charlotte, Lynn Upthagrove and Victor Niebylski, who give selflessly of their time and resources to Groveland Art Strolls, Chamber marketing efforts, 49er Festivals and Chili Cook-offs, Pine Cone Singers, Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau, and Yosemite Gateway Partners, among others. Noted among the creative contributions, the Hotel Charlotte hosted a summer luau at Camp Tuolumne Trails which raised over $2,400 for Groveland Soroptomists, and, Goose, the hotel dog, ran for honorary mayor of Groveland in 2008, raising $1,200 for his sponsor, Camp Tuolumne Trails, and $2,800 for the Yosemite Chamber.

Lynn and Victor hit the ground running when they purchased the Hotel Charlotte five and a half years ago. Virtually newlyweds at the time, Lynn worked for a company which wrote travel guides, and Victor was a chef at Stanford University. They literally had searched the world for just the right small hotel with a restaurant, before discovering the Hotel Charlotte and its proprietors, Ruth and Jim Kraenzel. Ruth and Jim sought buyers who would continue their tradition of friendly hospitality, good food, and community service. Lynn and Victor were the perfect prospects, and the sale between the couples initiated a new friendship.

Lynn’s development of the “Hotel Charlotte, On The Way To Yosemite” website launched the hotel worldwide and dramatically increased the demand for its hotel rooms. Chef Victor’s delectable entrees immediately attracted a loyal following of regular diners to the restaurant, as well as the hotel’s out-of-town visitors. In response to an increasing need, Lynn and Victor now offer additional lodging, complete with maid service and breakfast at the hotel, in several off-site homes and condominiums.

The Hotel Charlotte hosts the weekly meetings of the Rotary Club, the board meetings of the Yosemite Chamber of Commerce, monthly card stamping parties, and birthday clubs. Lynn has developed a series of special events from cabaret nights showcasing Dennis Brown and Friends from the Pine Cone Singers, to winemaker dinners showcasing local sommeliers, to classic holiday dinners such as Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, and New Years. So much in demand are Lynn and Chef Victor, with a staff known for good service and warm personality, that the Hotel Charlotte was contracted to cater several offsite events over the last year, including the Camp Tuolumne Trails New Year’s Eve fundraiser and the Yosemite Chamber’s Annual Gala.

The Hotel Charlotte is located on Main Street in Groveland, and may be contacted at (209) 962-6455, or at,

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Wars

Groveland, the givingest town in the world!

For all of our years here in Groveland, we have always taken this weekend to be visiting family in the midwest. Since we don't have an overnight person right now with Nancy up in Alaska, we decided to do the holidays with split vacations. Victor is in St. Louis right now with his family enjoying Thanksgiving and I go next week to Wisconsin where my family will pretend that it is Christmas. So...all this turkey business in Groveland is new to me, but I am totally enjoying the shenanigans!

So here's a story about the turkeys.
Each year the town gives a free Thanksgiving Dinner to anyone who wants one serving on Thanksgiving day from 11am to 4pm Sometimes whole families come, sometimes folks from far away come. All are welcome.

The dinners have been going on for 31 years now with usually 20 turkeys cooked. Yesterday I learned that the turkey cooking job is a coveted position and never given up. Even when one moves away, they "turn over their turkey" to a good friend to tend to for the next coming years. One such person was up to 3 turkeys this way and when the organizers tried to redistribute the birds to others interested in cooking, a to-do broke out. Bird thievery. Why are you stealing my turkeys....? Wow! Who knew the honor of cooking the bird was so grand. Maybe next year I will steal one to cook.

For this year I am signed up to be the Turkey Welcome Girl, TWG. That sounds fun. Maybe I will give everyone a parting Hotel Charlotte mint.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Kitchen taste tester

It is the early morning hour of 6:30 and Victor just served me a Napolean to taste test.

We've both been up for a couple of hours, the paper is read, crossword puzzle attempted and he has gone off to the kitchen to practice upcoming recipes. I don't eat sweets much and certainly not at 6:30 am. Now, if he had tried a new taco recipe, I might have been chomping down on it as I write.

I told him it looked lovely. Perhaps later I will try it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Immaculate Convection

We had a leisurely morning today with only a handful of rooms to serve breakfast to. Our friend and neighbor stopped by to hang out while his wife had her hair done. We enjoyed coffee and a chat about putting on a NO Monty "Chippendales" styled show, wondering if we are better off hiring professionals from "off the hill" or auditioning from our local bevy of buff buttocks.

Victor is cooking for this weekend, baking fresh pies and adding his 2¢ between pie checks. I head off to the computer to do a Chippendales Touring Show search and Tony goes to visit with Victor in the Kitchen.

Tony and I meet up later and he tells me this funny story about Victor and his pies not cooking, check, no change, checking again, no change, checking and rechecking and finally realizing the oven isn't on. Hahahah.

So we head to the kitchen and I ask Victor if he thinks he is such a good chef that he doesn't even need the oven on to create delicious pies.

He said he was trying for immaculate convection.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Turning Green

In researching what it means to be "green" the best advice I got was to start with a list of all the things we do now that fall under environmentally friendly. Then make a list of all the things we would like to do, then start implementing and moving items from the Green to-do list to the Green done list...and before you know it—GREEN

Here are the things we have identified as implemented: Green Done
  1. Floors laid with bamboo, a sustainable resource
  2. Swirl light bulbs where we can
  3. Purchased fuel economy car for housekeeping use trading in 8 miles to the gallon on an old van for 39 miles to the gallon on a new car.
  4. Exterior lighting is on timers
  5. Room notices posted to guests suggesting an option to
    Reuse of towels on multi-night stays
    Reuse of linens for multi-night stays
  6. Recycle paper for internal memos and note paper
  7. Live plants for to improve indoor air quality & promote restful environment.
  8. We pay a service to have our cardboard picked up for recycling
  9. Recycle printer & toner ink cartridges
  10. Neutered dog, no new Goose puppies
  11. In housekeeping we only run full loads of laundry and make best attempts to use machines at low energy times of the day
  12. Use of 100% recycled toilet and tissue paper
  13. Outdoor plants are on a drip system for watering
  14. Waste oil and grease from the kitchen is donated to a company that recycles it into Biodiesel fuel
  15. Installed all new windows, double pained with insulation and noise reduction between the panes.
  16. Insulated the hotel from the attic to the basement and above and below the restaurant and kitchen
  17. Replaced ice machine that worked on a water cooling with one that worked on air cooling, estimated reduction in water use, 3000 gallons a month.
  18. Replaced old and inefficient refrigerators with energy efficient equipment, eliminated one refrigerator from inventory.
  19. Purchased a micro freezer for frequently accessed items reducing door opening of large freezer with much smaller one with a far quicker recovery rate.
  20. Replace inefficient toilets with low-flow toilets
  21. Installed two HVAC units, one to run the second floor and one to run the first floor. Able to use only one system during slow periods and balance our heating and cooling needs with where the people are.
  22. Use products that can be washed and reused vs disposables such as linen table clothes and clothe napkins.
  23. Installed an instant hot water heater to run the kitchen needs. Reducing drain on the hotel system and providing hot water only when we need it.
  24. We have assigned a person to getting educated on what it means to be green, and subscribe to a number of relevant newsletters to keep us on top of new technologies and research in the field.

Things we are researching and hope some day to move to the above list:

  1. Transition more of our paper products to recycled including to-go boxes for the restaurant, hand towels in the bathrooms, paper napkins, doggie bags and bags we use for retail item sales. Currently getting pricing and sample from leading suppliers.
  2. Research environmentally friendly cleaning products for kitchen and laundry supplies. Must still meet health standards.
  3. Take a new look at solar options for the hotel. Our first research on this priced it out of our ability to procure, but advancements in technology and credits may make this a viable option
  4. Install a water tank to catch & store water four our gardens during the summer.
  5. Convert more lighting to florescent, use energy efficient bulbs where this isn't possible
  6. Install ceiling fans for better air circulation, reducing use of air conditioner
  7. Establish a recycling area with proper colored bins for guest use from the parking area.
  8. Establish with the trash folks exactly what they can & can't take from us, if they would start a service similar to their residential service for businesses. Else, find a group, business or person that will regularly transfer our recyclables to the processing places in Sonora. Consider paying to have someone haul our recyclables to the processeing center.

We recognize that these lists don't make us "green" yet. It is a mindset and a way of thinking that one builds into their life. But without making it a business priority, we won't ever make a smaller footprint on the earth. We have a long way to go, but we have started and use "green" thinking for all of our new purchases & improvements.

As we move items from our to-do list to our done list, we will update our website Hotel Charlotte Green list and twice a year compare with this original list and check that we are heading in the right direction.

Oysters on the Half Shell

The whole title of this book is Oysters on the Half Shell, Historic Hotels of the Mother Lode & the Recipes That Made Them Famous 1850 to Present. That's a mouthful!

Jan Iren Atkinson is the author and we just received our copy today. It's a marvelous book and a perfect gift for anyone who enjoys traveling the old hotels of the early 20th Centry and even Gold Rush era. Jan hasn't missed a one of our favorites.

Her write up of the Charlotte, while featuring some of the Hotel Charlotte history, Jan also tells a tale of her visit in November of 2006 and her meeting Bob, the Hotel Dog and his piano playing antics. She captures the comic scene quite perfectly! Congratulations on a job well done Jan, we hope you sell many books! Everyone I know is getting one this year for Christmas!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Auctioneer or Bidder?

I can't decide which of the two I like better. Auctioneer is like being on a stage, a one man show and has less personal financial cost, but the bidding, yes the that same adrenaline rush as casino games, but for a good cause. No real fundraiser with a live auction should be held without me around. Ohhh, I just love the bid, bump, much does the other bidder want this? Going Going....Bid again....Ohhhhhh. Shooooot, was that too much? Did I miss read? Ahhhhhh sigh of relief as someone again bids higher.

Talk talk, look back at bidding...My goodness, still on the same item? Hmmm, Let me flash my paddle and see what happens......And there we go again fingers crossed that someone comes and out bids us, not wanting to come home and tell Victor too very big of a list of great items we "won"

Now we are on Item 14, one I REALLY want. I am not just playing around here, now I have to psych everyone out and and and and DANG! wouldn't you know it, everyone in the room seemingly wants this item and in a breath goes up to $900. Not even in my ball park, I dropped out at $350, but all is not lost, there is an item 15 to begin the adrenaline again.

We end the night having won a beautiful fall silk wreath, a bouquet of candles in a bird cage, an hour ride in an antique plane and a sailboat cruise on Lake Don Pedro. A good catch!

But most of all, I got to watch a real professional in the actioneer seat and I know now that I don't have a clue what I am doing up on the stage as I play auctioneer in our little 49er Festival, but maybe someday Paul will auction off a lesson or two that I could bid on!

Best of all, when I get home, Victor is waiting up for me! Even though I am an hour later than I had anticipated. Very sweetly he listens to my ramblings as I relive all the highs of the evening.

Halloween at the Charlotte

4 Years I have been waiting for Halloween to fall on one of our resaurant nights. November 1st, 2004 I got the "vision" on how to best set it up for dinner guests and for maximum trick-or-treat fun and it took until October 31, 2008 for that day and date to match up with a restaurant night. But the vision was right on! The guests loved it, hundreds of photos were taken and the kids really think our huge barrel of candy with nearly a free for all approach is just the grandest!

If you have been here before, we have a narrow room and a square dining room that are connected. I took the center table out of the square dining room and had dinner guests set all around the room and in the small room. I purchased some glow in the dark foot prints and mapped out a path we wanted the kids to follow so they go by every table in the house, and most of them did.

It was just right and we even got some "thank you, great party" notes from folks that joined us. That's always a good sign. I will post some pictures when I get them from Connie. She was the house photographer that night.