Amtrak dining

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Joined
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Welcome, and I hope you enjoy your trip. I'll take the first two questions and leave the rest to others who have more recent experience with those trains.

On the Lake Shore Limited, if you have a sleeper room, you should be offered dinner service before Albany, probably about 5 p.m. It will be "flex dining," which means a prefab meal presented in its freezer tub, which you can opt to consume at a bare table in the dining car -- or you can take it back to your room. (The reference you may have seen to no food service before Albany likely was discussing coach passengers, as there is no food car other than the diner, which is open only to sleeper passengers, until west of Albany.)

From Flagstaff to Los Angeles, I would plan on having dinner before you board at Flagstaff. On the plus side, the diner normally opens for breakfast quite early on the approach to LA.
Leaving from NYP as a sleeper passenger on the Lake you could certainly avail yourself of pre trip fare at the new lounge, most people find the food there pretty good....probably not a problem to take some with you as well..
 
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What abut the Capitol Limited? I know they have the CCC, I mean when will it get traditional dining?
Supposedly final decisions about which routes will get what food service format and which will have checked baggage are being made now. Getting non revenue cars out of mothballs will be based on those decisions. For the Capitol limited and eagle to get back traditional dining likely means needing to get more sightseers out of mothballs. To go back to full traditional dining they’d need the Sightseer car for a cafe. I suspect the trains currently running with only one food service car would be the last to get anything as they’ll need to get cars out of storage. I’m also somewhat skeptical that they will go with a full fledged traditional approach everywhere - I could see them trying something new where maybe they bring back a chef but try to do something that allows just one food car. It’s hard to picture both a diner and lounge on the Cardinal for instance. We shall see though.
 
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Further bringing back full service food to the silvers is likely a decision that had already be made - hence the hiring of chefs. Correct me if I’m wrong but prior to flex dining the VL2 diners operated with a staff of 3 right? 1 chef 1 LSA-Diner and one train attendent server. There have been no food specialists posted at Miami so this seems to be correct. I know the times I rode both the crescent and meteor with a VL2 diner it was 3 crew members.
 
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Mar 30, 2012
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What happened?

We had lunch with them on the first leg of the trip, he was reasonably pleasant, but her, not so much, and was already giving some of the crew a hard time. On the next leg of the trip they were at dinner at the table next to us, clearly intoxicated and she was really giving the crew a hard time about their room and the food. Eventually the conductor came over and told them if they kept it up they would be put off the train. Next morning at breakfast we heard from other passengers, everyone knew about these people by that time, that they had been kicked off the train during the night. Didn't get the exact details but from what I gather they were insisting on smoking on the train and then got into an altercation with one of the crew.
 
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For the Capitol limited and eagle to get back traditional dining likely means needing to get more sightseers out of mothballs. To go back to full traditional dining they’d need the Sightseer car for a cafe.
Actually, not true, at least from past experience. I have ridden the Capitol Limited some time before Flex dining was even a concept, they even had a Sightseer Lounge, but they elected to use the CCC as both the cafe car and the dining car. And it was traditional dining (even the coach passengers were served.)
 
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Actually, not true, at least from past experience. I have ridden the Capitol Limited some time before Flex dining was even a concept, they even had a Sightseer Lounge, but they elected to use the CCC as both the cafe car and the dining car. And it was traditional dining (even the coach passengers were served.)
That’s Good to know - I stand corrected. Another unexplained Thing is the chef jobs in Charlotte. It doesn’t seem like there are enough active VL2 diners to bring back traditional dining on the meteor, Star, lake shore, and crescent all at once unless they plan to overhaul a few stored diners. Will be interesting to see what happens.
 
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Cal

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Another unexplained Thing is the chef jobs in Charlotte.
Now introducing dining cars on the Carolinian!

We had lunch with them on the first leg of the trip, he was reasonably pleasant, but her, not so much, and was already giving some of the crew a hard time. On the next leg of the trip they were at dinner at the table next to us, clearly intoxicated and she was really giving the crew a hard time about their room and the food. Eventually the conductor came over and told them if they kept it up they would be put off the train. Next morning at breakfast we heard from other passengers, everyone knew about these people by that time, that they had been kicked off the train during the night. Didn't get the exact details but from what I gather they were insisting on smoking on the train and then got into an altercation with one of the crew.
I'm glad they were kicked off.
 

Rambling Robert

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The other one that might get it at that time is the Lake Shore. Just my WAG based on nothing I might add. 🤷‍♂️

That just leaves the Crescent which will allegedly get its Diner back in the same timeframe. There are enough Diner cars available for the Cardinal to get a Diner too but I suspect that requires taking a few out of the mothball bank, which won;t happen this year for sure, and probably not even in five years.
Prolly my MOST memorable Amtrak experience was having lunch on the dining car on the LSL in December 2017. I had Chicken Fricassee and this classic dish was perfect ... just like my Mom’s. Our waiter presented the food in such a way to make it even more appetizing. I honestly felt like I was dining in a fancy Manhattan restaurant.

I shared the table with a woman who traveled to Chicago/NYC to visit her daughter several times a year. She was amused of my enjoyment of my lunch - especially she herself being a mom. Also the waiter knew her from past trips - always in a sleeper. It didn’t matter that I was only in Coach.
 

TheCrescent

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On the southbound Crescent, the “cafe-lounge” opens around 4pm, and then is closed from about 5pm to about 7:30pm so that meals can be prepared for sleeping car passengers.

I was in a sleeping car, so I got my food, but it’s really surprising that coach passengers don’t have any food service around a normal dinner time. I’d think that an announcement could be made, during the layover in Washington, that getting off and getting food in the station is allowed, but the only announcement was “if you want to stretch your legs you may get off.”
 

TheCrescent

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Oh please let the Crescent get traditional back this year. I’m praying lol

I thought that in the pre-Amtrak days, railroads got in hot water for having long-distance trains without food service. But this is what Amtrak is doing. Coach passengers can’t even buy a bottle of water around dinner time.

The Crescent could be a viable travel option between two major metros: Washington and Atlanta. But it’s an unpleasant joke of a train.
 

billosborn

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Mar 6, 2022
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Prolly my MOST memorable Amtrak experience was having lunch on the dining car on the LSL in December 2017. I had Chicken Fricassee and this classic dish was perfect ... just like my Mom’s. Our waiter presented the food in such a way to make it even more appetizing. I honestly felt like I was dining in a fancy Manhattan restaurant.

I shared the table with a woman who traveled to Chicago/NYC to visit her daughter several times a year. She was amused of my enjoyment of my lunch - especially she herself being a mom. Also the waiter knew her from past trips - always in a sleeper. It didn’t matter that I was only in Coach.
I often traveled in Coach when the dining car was open for coach passengers, and I often was seated with folks who were in sleepers. Not once did I ever encounter a sleeper passenger who looked down their nose because I was in coach. On the contrary, they seemed like some of the nicest folk you'd ever want to meet. For me those were the best times on the train, you get to swap stories and meet some very interesting folk.
 

Cal

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The Silvers,Crescent and the Texas Eagle are the longest trains time wise.I would imagine these would be the first trains to reinstate traditional dining. Of course,this makes too much sense.
LSL will almost definitely get it at the same time or before the Crescent and Eagle. LSL is generally favored AFAICT.
 

TheVig

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Yeah, I was being sarcastic, although why they would be hiring chef's in Charlotte is beyond me.

I’m not sure either. It’s gotta be for the Crescent, but why not base them out of NOL or NYP? It’s a bit of a stretch, but maybe they are trying to pick up some fresh out of culinary school chefs from Johnson & Wales here in Charlotte.
 
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On the southbound Crescent, the “cafe-lounge” opens around 4pm, and then is closed from about 5pm to about 7:30pm so that meals can be prepared for sleeping car passengers.

I was in a sleeping car, so I got my food, but it’s really surprising that coach passengers don’t have any food service around a normal dinner time. I’d think that an announcement could be made, during the layover in Washington, that getting off and getting food in the station is allowed, but the only announcement was “if you want to stretch your legs you may get off.”
Making an announcement to get off and get food in Was will never happen. Even without the announcement there are enough people that get off to get food and then get lost/delayed/confused only to come back and find their train has left without them!
 

Pal2Pluto

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Sep 20, 2021
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On our upcoming trip, we will be in coach, Business (on Coast Starlight) and in a roomette. I understand in coach, our dining option is only the cafe. But in Business, I believe I read we have the option of dining in the dining car for an upcharge? And then of course, in a roomette, it's included. So how does the dining car know who is able to eat there? Do they check the ticket on my phone? Do we get something like a voucher in our roomette?

Also, if we upgrade to a last minute room from coach, how do they get notified that we are now able to eat in the dining car?

just curious....... Thanks!
 
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Yeah it has to be something for the Crescent. There have also been LSA jobs posted at Charlotte as well. Perhaps if dining is coming back they plan to crew it at the midway point out of Charlotte - maybe the idea is to avoid them needing roomettes for the extra crew a full diner would involve.. Lake Shore could very well be getting it as well and there have certainly been chef jobs in Chicago posted but obviously that one is harder to track as Chicago is the base for other LD trains that currently have dinng - was the diner crew Chicago or New York based when they had traditional dining?
 
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