Amtrak dining

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crescent-zephyr

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Fair point, but I think it's better to accommodate passengers wishing to dine alone with room service than by banning coach passengers from the dining car entirely.

Oh I agree. I think coach passengers should have access to the dining car, but if they don’t I think sleeping car passengers should be able to use the available space for solo dining.
 
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In my December trip it was communal seating. Weird, seems to be up to the train/crew
It isn't supposed to be. I had a trip in March where they were doing it as well - but if they are the crew is doing it on their own. I had a couple instances on a recent trip of crews requiring it to eat in the diner anyway - and it seemed like they were doing it so they could just use the tables in one half of the diner which understandably puts less strain on the staff. I can see why they want to push communal dining but they aren't supposed to do so according to current company policy.
 

ScottR

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There are enough of us who ride the trains to see a pattern here. You’ve all just pointed it out again and again. Some of Amtrak‘s rules may be not be too our liking, in which case we can complain E-mail Us | Amtrak. Just don’t put (no matter how much you want too) ”damn” in the comments

But the main issue we all see is the sheer arbitrariness of all of it. My experience should not be what the OBS decides it’s going to be that day. That is bad training and unprofessional. But we have here a passionate group, willing to pay the price to do something we love, and a not so passionate group taking our money. And it’s not going to be a popular opinion, but most OBS are not customer focussed. I wish they were, they should be…and they are making a heck of a lot more money and benefits than my grandkids in similar service jobs. And yes, before someone even says “but we have to be on a train and be up at all hours” My Navy kid says hi.
 
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Joe from PA

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Make believe you worked for Amtrak. Tell me how you would order meals for 5 cars full of coach passengers if they were able to use the dining car? Suppose you ran out? At least with sleeper passengers you know how many you are dealing with. Then you are only dealing with ordering types of meals. But at least you would not have to tell a sleeping car passenger, "Gee, we ran out of food".
 
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Make believe you worked for Amtrak. Tell me how you would order meals for 5 cars full of coach passengers if they were able to use the dining car? Suppose you ran out? At least with sleeper passengers you know how many you are dealing with. Then you are only dealing with ordering types of meals. But at least you would not have to tell a sleeping car passenger, "Gee, we ran out of food".

Um, just about every restaurant on the planet does this every day. Part of the core function of management for any food service car is estimating supply needs based on past experience and current reservations. It's not rocket surgery.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Make believe you worked for Amtrak. Tell me how you would order meals for 5 cars full of coach passengers if they were able to use the dining car? Suppose you ran out? At least with sleeper passengers you know how many you are dealing with. Then you are only dealing with ordering types of meals. But at least you would not have to tell a sleeping car passenger, "Gee, we ran out of food".
How do you think Amtrak managed to do this for decades prior to the Anderson downgrades?
 

jebr

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Um, just about every restaurant on the planet does this every day. Part of the core function of management for any food service car is estimating supply needs based on past experience and current reservations. It's not rocket surgery.

Not to mention, Amtrak has a couple of distinct advantages:
  • They know roughly how many people they've sold tickets to, and if someone doesn't have a ticket they aren't going to be buying food in the dining car.
  • They can limit capacity with reservations - I know the evening meal they require reservations for coach passengers as well so they won't overbook that meal, and they keep a wait list as well for other meals.
Plus, Amtrak doesn't cut off sleeper sales at whatever time they place the order for meals - so someone could buy a last-minute sleeper ticket/upgrade and require meal service anyways. Amtrak can certainly handle having coach passengers in the dining car - and in my opinion should cater to them more. The coach-only at-seat meals seemed like a smart move to better utilize the dining car kitchen without needing additional seating, and gave coach passengers an option to have a reasonably-priced meal on board that was a step above the cafe car food.
 
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Many a fork has been broken eating flex French Toast. The flex omelette is no better. I usually stick to the very mediocre Jimmy Dean sandwich and cereal. Breakfast is the worst.
I didn’t have the broken fork problem when I had it on the lake shore but it may apply on the crescent. On the Lake Shore the flex meals are actually prepared closer to the manner in which the meals are meant to be prepared in ovens in the viewliner dining car so that may explain why I didn’t get that. On the Crescent I’m guessing they nuke them due to the split cafe/diner setup - which probably is part of what creates the fork breaking.
 

jis

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Since I usually use a knife to cut things and not a fork, I usually do not have a broken fork problem unless the thing is so solid that I cannot stick a form in it using the pointy end of the thing :) Admittedly that has happened at times, but never with the Omelette.
 
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Since I usually use a knife to cut things and not a fork, I usually do not have a broken fork problem unless the thing is so solid that I cannot stick a form in it using the pointy end of the thing :) Admittedly that has happened at times, but never with the Omelette.
I was curious how they do the flex meals on the star does the French toast come out like a rock? I suppose even in an oven if overdone that can be the result. Been curious many workers in the diner and are they using oven or microwave given its 5 sleepers.
 

jis

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I was curious how they do the flex meals on the star does the French toast come out like a rock? I suppose even in an oven if overdone that can be the result. Been curious many workers in the diner and are they using oven or microwave given its 5 sleepers.
I don't know. Since I don't much care for French Toast, I have never had it. But the Omelette is quite cuttable, even with the blunt sides of a fork on the Star. I had it a couple fines in the recent past and will again have it next week.
 
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I don't know. Since I don't much care for French Toast, I have never had it. But the Omelette is quite cuttable, even with the blunt sides of a fork on the Star. I had it a couple fines in the recent past and will again have it next week.
How many staff in the diner? I’ve noticed the lake shore running with an extra LSA who often helps in the diner - was curious if Star was the same.
 

jis

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How many staff in the diner? I’ve noticed the lake shore running with an extra LSA who often helps in the diner - was curious if Star was the same.
They consistently had two people in the kitchen area. I do not know what their exact titles were. The SS is a long train in its current form, and I think they would find it difficult to serve the customers in 5 Sleepers, which are usually quite full with a single LSA, so my guess is that both of them are assigned to the Diner.

I know all the SCAs on those runs and none of them were sitting in the Diner kitchen when I was in the Diner, which was for very long periods since on the northbound @pennyk and I and a couple of OTOL folks were sitting there chatting and on the southbound I was traveling with a fellow Florida representative in the RPA Council and while sitting in the Diner er ... I mean Sleeper lounge, we were scheming about what to do in Florida with FDOT and the Governor.
 

ScottR

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I didn’t have the broken fork problem when I had it on the lake shore but it may apply on the crescent. On the Lake Shore the flex meals are actually prepared closer to the manner in which the meals are meant to be prepared in ovens in the viewliner dining car so that may explain why I didn’t get that. On the Crescent I’m guessing they nuke them due to the split cafe/diner setup - which probably is part of what creates the fork breaking.
This is a good point. Are the flex meals designed to be microwaved or convection? Convected? Or simply conveyed as spell check wants me to put here?☺️ It is an interesting question…I don’t know the answer.

Like many I suspect we have nuked a few things (an omelet…ok…just not too long). A French toast or a Jimmy Dean…done that in the microwave as well….but we all can agree it’s probably better in the oven….sort of toasted as the name suggests.

But again I honestly don’t know and am curious as to what tools the crew has down there in the various consists….
 

ScottR

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Since I usually use a knife to cut things and not a fork, I usually do not have a broken fork problem unless the thing is so solid that I cannot stick a form in it using the pointy end of the thing :) Admittedly that has happened at times, but never with the Omelette.
It pretty much describes the meatballs though. I’ll eat em because it’s ”free” but I’ve also considered using them for a few rounds of golf.
 

ScottR

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They consistently had two people in the kitchen area. I do not know what their exact titles were. The SS is a long train in its current form, and I think they would find it difficult to serve the customers in 5 Sleepers, which are usually quite full with a single LSA, so my guess is that both of them are assigned to the Diner.

I know all the SCAs on those runs and none of them were sitting in the Diner kitchen when I was in the Diner, which was for very long periods since on the northbound @pennyk and I and a couple of OTOL folks were sitting there chatting and on the southbound I was traveling with a fellow Florida representative in the RPA Council and while sitting in the Diner er ... I mean Sleeper lounge, we were scheming about what to do in Florida with FDOT and the Governor.
Wow they have five sleepers? I didn’t know Amtrak ran such long trains as I’ve only been on a few of the Western trains most recently…and it was the Texas Eaglet at that. I know…I know…. what we all have to say about that consist and I’ve been riding that train for a while and it makes me mad…or mostly sad As I recall the way it was a few years ago.

im a big railfan, and convinced my 80 year old parents to come out to see me in California from Longview Tx. on the train, as they don‘t like to fly anymore. When the stubby little Eaglet pulled up…it wasn’t well received. But we made amends on the Sunset and the Starlight.

Still, sold out the last four or five times I’ve done it. What an accomplishment Amtrack!
 

ScottR

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Not much of an accomplishment considering the extremely low consist.
Yes my point. It’s one of the longest trains, the scenery is miles and miles of Texas….which I like but isn’t everyone’s cup of tea….but man what a slog for us Texas customers.

anyway to Keep on topic…flex dining is unpleasant, the worst of it seems to be on the Eaglet, the microwaves….maybe need a tune up. The staff is surly, the tracks in Arkansas are jiggly, and the burrito lady was not at El Paso the last time (ok that‘s the Sunset but still)

and I’m still gonna pay for a roomette in August and again in December to go see the family…because it is the most fun way to do it…and with gas prices, hotels etc…not so out of balance.
 

joelkfla

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I was curious how they do the flex meals on the star does the French toast come out like a rock? I suppose even in an oven if overdone that can be the result. Been curious many workers in the diner and are they using oven or microwave given its 5 sleepers.
I think it's the convection oven, since it's prepared in a genuine VL II diner. I thought it was pretty good. I seem to recall it being a bit chewy, but not hard.
They consistently had two people in the kitchen area. I do not know what their exact titles were. The SS is a long train in its current form, and I think they would find it difficult to serve the customers in 5 Sleepers, which are usually quite full with a single LSA, so my guess is that both of them are assigned to the Diner.
There was just one in October for the 3 sleepers on the Meteor, and he seemed to have a lot of spare time. Maybe more people are eating in the diner now, instead of their rooms.
 
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