Amtrak Dining and Cafe service 2023 H2

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pennyk

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With permission from poster on trains website would like to add this observation.

Much has been written about lack of traditional dining returning.
At present Amtrak cannot provide proper on board dinning service due to lack of on board staff. Why the short staff? More staff means more sleeper space taken for the additional OBS staff that cannot then be sold to the public. Now maybe the LSL getting 3 NYP - CHI sleepers will allow more OBS staff on that train? Still it is loss of sleeper revenue. What is one solution?


Of course, getting all sleepers back into service is important. But in the long run that still makes possible room space unable to sell. Instead of retiring Amfleet cars in the future start converting them to dorm cars. Right now Bear or other locations could take some mildly wrecked Amfleets now stored that are going to need new interiors anyway and make them Dorm cars.

Amtrak could get with union(s) for a quick design. Then Amtrak can get many car LD trains and properly serve all passengers. As well have limited 24/7 service. They would also work on Superliner consist trains as well. Does VIA have a separate dorm car(s) on the Canadian?

 
I'm thinking ahead to a trip on the Pennsylvanian later this month. It looks like they have the NEC Cafe menu, which includes a Turkey and Asiago Sandwich, a Chicken Bahn Mi, and a Sundried Tomato Caprese Sandwich.

Has anybody tried any of these and would care to offer an opinion?
 
I'm thinking ahead to a trip on the Pennsylvanian later this month. It looks like they have the NEC Cafe menu, which includes a Turkey and Asiago Sandwich, a Chicken Bahn Mi, and a Sundried Tomato Caprese Sandwich.

Has anybody tried any of these and would care to offer an opinion?
😎Sounds great, hopefully someone will respond that has ridden recently!
 
"two additional tables next to the kitchen were either stacked with supplies or used by crew." Why? I can remember dining in the 90's and this did not happen. Do the viewliner's not have adequate space for supplies and meal prep?
This supplies problem might be able to be mitigated if Amtrak will make some dorm cars with supply closets. If Amtrak would take those Amfleet coaches that are parked. Remove seats make it a dorm and storage area. That would solve some problems of not enough OBS in diner, all tables open for service, all coach passengers could have traditional dining if desired, etc.
 
This supplies problem might be able to be mitigated if Amtrak will make some dorm cars with supply closets. If Amtrak would take those Amfleet coaches that are parked. Remove seats make it a dorm and storage area. That would solve some problems of not enough OBS in diner, all tables open for service, all coach passengers could have traditional dining if desired, etc.
Amtrak does need to add dorm cars but at the moment there is a baggage car that can be used for excess storage. But to my original point is there a lack of adequate prep area/storage in the viewliner II diner?
 
"two additional tables next to the kitchen were either stacked with supplies or used by crew." Why? I can remember dining in the 90's and this did not happen. Do the viewliner's not have adequate space for supplies and meal prep?
Probably lack of supervision and direction. It's ridiculous as is the prohibition of coach passengers being offered meals at extra cost rather than gratis.
 
But to my original point is there a lack of adequate prep area/storage in the viewliner II diner?
Storage space is probably adequate if used as designed. But the use of disposable plates and glasses/cups and paper table cloth creates mountains of trash and boxes of table supplies. Amtrak chose this option rather than pay for someone to wash it all and have linen cleaned. I hope it changes but meanwhile I’m thankful we have good food back on most trains.

In the mid 60’s Paul Reistrup on the the C&O/B&O made a valiant effort to bring back passengers. The photo is from a ‘66 timetable. Not a chance you’ll see this on Amtrak. Reistrup and his successor Bill Howes did succeed in increasing ridership with this and other innovations but it didn’t stop the red ink. To their credit that maintained good service levels until Amtrak, albeit with many trains discontinued.

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I was wondering if you can deviate from the menu, can you ask for the wild grains instead of the mashed potatoes for the steak.
 
I agreed with just about everything the author said. But he discussed one subject that I have never seen mentioned in all the AU dining car/food service threads. There has been endless discussion of coach passengers eating in the dining car, but nothing about the practically empty dining car at meal time.

I've been noticing this phenomena since before the pandemic troubles began, on the California Zephyr as well as the flex eastern trains. In fact I can't remember the last time my wife and I had to share a table with others.
 
I did do community seating on the silver Star even though there were only a few tables in use. I think one factor is that there has been a substantial increase in the number of passengers opting to take their meals in their room. I think flex dining particularly emphasized and moved things in that direction particularly on the eastern trains even though it was an option prior to it. Then of course you had Covid which required it for a while. Generally though I do still see the diner busy on the Auto Train. My last western train trip also had a fair amount of people in the diner.
 
I think during the COVID times eating in room was encouraged, which incidentally also reduced the need for dedicated additional staff in the Diner to serve tables. Essentially the SCA's served the food instead of LSAs.

Since then apparently that habit has stuck and many more people now eat in their room.
 
From July 1, 2023 forward, please post comments discussing Amtrak dining and cafe service here. For previous posts regarding Amtrak dining and cafe service, please refer to this thread, which is currently locked:

https://www.amtraktrains.com/threads/amtrak-dining-and-cafe-service.78171/page-249#post-1011888
Thank you for your cooperation and participation.
My wife and I returned from a round trip Connecticut to Florida (our daughter's wedding) yesterday on the Stars. We had a roomette both ways and therefore were able to eat in the dining car. I didn't know for sure if they had the flex dining or what I call "real food" prepared by a chef. They had a real chef and the food was fabulous. Between us we had the salmon, flat-iron steak and baked chicken for dinner. Morning omelettes were fabulous; lunches were great. Service was fine also. We were profuse in offering our complements. I can't think of one negative except that for one meal the door to the dining car was stuck open making for quite a bit of noise.
 
On the Crescent as I type this and while waiting in the Metro Lounge at Moynihan I noticed the Amtrak Market Research team was doing interviews. I wanted to be a part of the survey so I told them I was more than happy to sit with them. (I also wanted the nice swag they were giving away.)

They asked about Acela ridership which I have never done given the need to change trains in DC and then asked about food and I told them they need to get traditional dining back ASAP for the Crescent and other routes in the south east. She took good notes-and I got my swag which was a very nice metal water bottle with an Amtrak logo. (I would have done the survey without the swag just to give them some feedback.) I think, I know, I mentioned the steak specifically.
 
On the Crescent as I type this and while waiting in the Metro Lounge at Moynihan I noticed the Amtrak Market Research team was doing interviews. I wanted to be a part of the survey so I told them I was more than happy to sit with them. (I also wanted the nice swag they were giving away.)

They asked about Acela ridership which I have never done given the need to change trains in DC and then asked about food and I told them they need to get traditional dining back ASAP for the Crescent and other routes in the south east. She took good notes-and I got my swag which was a very nice metal water bottle with an Amtrak logo. (I would have done the survey without the swag just to give them some feedback.) I think, I know, I mentioned the steak specifically.
I'm surprised they didn't have traditional dining. We did on our Silvers trip last week and it was fabulous!
 
I'm surprised they didn't have traditional dining. We did on our Silvers trip last week and it was fabulous!
On the Eastern trains, traditional has only returned to the Silvers. No timing for its return has been announced for any other trains as of yet. There is speculation that the Lake Shore might get it next, but no one really knows what the next stage of the rollout will be or when.
 
We'll be taking the eastbound Empire builder from GPK on 8/6. Wondering if the cafe car would give me hot water for my instant oatmeal cup. Didn't know if that was a thing or not.

Edit: We're traveling in coach - hence the need to fend for ourselves. :)
 
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