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Qapla

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A further look at where this place is:
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The back side of the building
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Somehow, I doubt they make the meals there - looks like just a warehouse where they are stored and shipped from ... if that - could just be an office/desk behind the glass door where the paperwork for the billing and shipping is done.
 

Manny T

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Is it really just one person serving as a middleman or something?
Link...
I found that Dun & Bradstreet report on the one-person "New Horizon Industries Inc." with annual revenues of c. $80,000 and I frankly can't determine how that relates to the listed distributor of Amtrak's flex "meals."

I believe that in our quest to understand what Amtrak is doing or trying to do with flex "dining," it would help to broaden the net and find out where the sub-standard product is coming from, who conceived it and produces it, and what the history of that company is (prison food? Guantanamo Bay canteen?)
 

Qapla

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crescent-zephyr

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What a mess. Doesn’t Amtrak still have the contract with Aramark as well? So is Amtrak paying Aramark who is then paying New Horizon?
 

me_little_me

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So, shall we have a poll as to where the ultimate source is? Which is it?

Fresh Kills Landfill?

Soylent Green?

Both of which I suggested. But I'm open to alternatives.
 

20th Century Rider

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Trains Magazine wrote last December... "Food service on Amtrak’s long-distance trains has become such an exercise in repetition that something as modest as the cold meal service on the Portland, Ore., section of the Empire Builder is both a notable and welcome respite."

Great article which is 'right on track' with Amtrak's woeful food issues!

But the government is certainly to blame for cash starving this carrier... supposedly a governmental transportation operation fueled by tax dollars [everything is... including the lavish perks for elected officials who vote to take more from the taxpayers for their pockets.]

Gimme a break!😡
 

Dakota 400

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"Food service on Amtrak’s long-distance trains has become such an exercise in repetition that something as modest as the cold meal service on the Portland, Ore., section of the Empire Builder is both a notable and welcome respite."
I have experienced the cold meal service on that train and it was quite acceptable. More food provided than I expected. I wonder if such service is as good now as it was.
 

TrackWalker

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I have experienced the cold meal service on that train and it was quite acceptable. More food provided than I expected. I wonder if such service is as good now as it was.
I experienced this too back in 2017. Unfortunately, it was interesting to say the least as we were being bustituted from Pasco, WA to Portland at the time because of a bridge replacement at Camas, WA. Food was prepackaged and waiting outside the depot for us to choose, pick up, carry to the buses and eat on our laps.

If I recall correctly it was provided to both sleeper and coach passengers.
 

Maverickstation

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On vendor that I tracked down that makes Amtrak Food for Kosher Flex Dining, is Borenstein, also
of Jamaica Queens.

In their case they manufacture Kosher meals for a number of major airlines, and Amtrak.

The omelette for breakfast, and the three lunch/dinner options are about the healthiest entrees you can
order from the Flex Dining Menu. They have to be ordered in advance, but anyone can order them.
The only negative that I have head about these options is that they run on the bland side.

 

20th Century Rider

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On vendor that I tracked down that makes Amtrak Food for Kosher Flex Dining, is Borenstein, also
of Jamaica Queens.

In their case they manufacture Kosher meals for a number of major airlines, and Amtrak.

The omelette for breakfast, and the three lunch/dinner options are about the healthiest entrees you can
order from the Flex Dining Menu. They have to be ordered in advance, but anyone can order them.
The only negative that I have head about these options is that they run on the bland side.

They quote Amtrak as one of their customers. Looks like they are a very high quality caterer and of course comprehensive and respectable in their catered food products. The fact that they serve El Al Israeli Airline says a lot about their quality and reliability; even if the food is not strongly spiced or uniquely flavored... they serve a lot of people.

Their product would be my first choice over any flex meal Amtrak serves. No contest! 😊

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Qapla

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I can't remember exactly where I saw them - had to visit several sites to find who owns the UPC for the Amtrak Flex Meals - but I did see a picture with a stack of the black-plated meals that looked like those served on Amtrak on one of the sites connected with Chef Gerard
 

lordsigma

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Aramark probably arranges it all for them and may procure these items for them. Amtrak probably deals with Aramark who then procures the flex dining meals from whatever company produces them. I don’t believe Aramark itself produces any commercial prepackaged food products - they are a management outsourcing company that is running the commissary for them but they are not a food supplier they are procuring actual food product from others. When Aramark runs your kitchen or cafeteria the actual food is coming from a supplier like Sysco or Performance - they are a managed services provider as opposed to a food supplier.

Food service is their main managed service but they also do facilities management - you can hire them to manage your building infrastructure for you.
 
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Qapla

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No wonder the meals cost what they do then ...
Aramark is a management company who get them from New Horizons, another management company who gets them from Foodkits, who seem to be another management arm for Chef-in-a-Box who seems to be owned by Chef Gerard

All of those management fees must increase the cost

Imagine how much better food they could get for the money if they would cut out the middlemen
 
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Mailliw

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Just what are the kosher meals like on Amtrak? I might order them for my Capitol Limited trip this summer?
 

fdaley

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It’s ridiculously unpopular among enthusiasts and railfans and longtime rail travelers who are well aware of what railroad dining cars used to be and others where the dining car was one of the main reasons they traveled by train (and of course those of us with dietary restrictions and more conscious of what we are eating.) But I think if you were to poll travelers as a whole you’d probably be surprised how many are either fine with it or don’t care that much - the only person I heard complaining about it on my last trip is an employee. On my recent trips I only heard people say that they either liked it or that it wasn’t bad - especially among the people that I’ve talked to where they are, like me, relatively new to traveling by train. Now of course I’m not talking to everyone and the amount of people you see coming out of their rooms with Covid is limited but just reporting what I’ve experienced recently. I’m not saying there aren’t many that don’t like it - just that it may not be as universally despised in the general Amtrak traveler population as much as it is among those of us who are long time enthusiast riders. I say this was no disrespect towards those folks here - I think that’s an important aspect of Amtrak’s ridership that it shouldn’t push away. But here we are.
It might well be that a majority of Amtrak travelers don't care that much about the quality of the food, but there is at least a significant minority who do. The people who care the most are, like me, avoiding any of the trains with flex dining, which at this point is all of the long-distance services and pre-Covid was everything east of the Mississippi. So you wouldn't hear us complaining on board, but there might be some extra bedrooms that don't sell because we're staying home or found some other way to travel.

Certainly the attitude of Amtrak's management is that if flex dining drives away some longtime customers, they'll just recruit new riders who don't care about the food quality or don't have any sense of how much better it recently was. Whether this is a viable strategy is highly questionable in my view. In most businesses, you try not to tick off your most loyal, high-revenue customers, and you wouldn't bet on easily replacing them with people who've never tried your services. But of course Amtrak is not a normal business in many ways.
 

lordsigma

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It might well be that a majority of Amtrak travelers don't care that much about the quality of the food, but there is at least a significant minority who do. The people who care the most are, like me, avoiding any of the trains with flex dining, which at this point is all of the long-distance services and pre-Covid was everything east of the Mississippi. So you wouldn't hear us complaining on board, but there might be some extra bedrooms that don't sell because we're staying home or found some other way to travel.

Certainly the attitude of Amtrak's management is that if flex dining drives away some longtime customers, they'll just recruit new riders who don't care about the food quality or don't have any sense of how much better it recently was. Whether this is a viable strategy is highly questionable in my view. In most businesses, you try not to tick off your most loyal, high-revenue customers, and you wouldn't bet on easily replacing them with people who've never tried your services. But of course Amtrak is not a normal business in many ways.
I think the only strategy right now is basic survival and providing basic transportation to those willing or required to ride right now and remember that many are not willing to travel right now. From Amtrak’s perspective they may feel that many longtime riders are probably of an age where they aren’t riding right now anyway, a bit of a generalization when it comes to age admittedly but the bottom line is many people aren’t traveling.
 

lordsigma

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I think the only strategy right now is basic survival and providing basic transportation to those willing or required to ride right now and remember that many are not willing to travel right now. From Amtrak’s perspective they may feel that many longtime riders are probably of an age where they aren’t riding right now anyway, a bit of a generalization when it comes to age admittedly but the bottom line is many people aren’t traveling.
And as far as other travel options you have to remember that airlines have also cut OBS and have their own disadvantages - and it sounds like some are starting to pull back on their policies of not booking middle seats except for traveling companions - yes first class is an option on some flights. I’m sorry but I’ll take flex dining any day over sitting on a cramped bus or on a plane with a stranger right next to me basically touching them during a pandemic - I don’t care how good the air circulation or filtration system is on the plane. When the pandemic ends and airlines begin ramping up onboard amenities again I’d like to hope that Amtrak management will as well.
 

fdaley

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I think the only strategy right now is basic survival and providing basic transportation to those willing or required to ride right now and remember that many are not willing to travel right now.
And that makes sense given where we are, though as others have suggested, there might be low-cost changes that would make the current regimen less horrible.

In my own case, the pandemic would be keeping me off the train even if the dining service were great. But perhaps later this year, as immunizations increase and case counts go down, lots of us will start thinking about traveling again. Some who traveled Amtrak LD trains a lot in the past will be looking to see whether traditional dining service, or something close to it, is restored before we book new trips. If we go back to the pre-Covid status -- flex dining in the east and traditional dining in the west -- I'll be traveling a lot less than in the past, given that I live in the Northeast. I might plan a trip using the western trains, but I'd have to figure out how to get to Chicago first, which becomes something of a disincentive to going at all.
 

Qapla

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Even if it is "Basic Survival" - having so many middlemen (management companies) involved in purchasing the food is an even worse idea.

Now would be a good time to rectify that situation and buy a better product for less cost without all the middlemen eating up money that should/could be spent on the actual food instead of the management of the food
 

lordsigma

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And that makes sense given where we are, though as others have suggested, there might be low-cost changes that would make the current regimen less horrible.

In my own case, the pandemic would be keeping me off the train even if the dining service were great. But perhaps later this year, as immunizations increase and case counts go down, lots of us will start thinking about traveling again. Some who traveled Amtrak LD trains a lot in the past will be looking to see whether traditional dining service, or something close to it, is restored before we book new trips. If we go back to the pre-Covid status -- flex dining in the east and traditional dining in the west -- I'll be traveling a lot less than in the past, given that I live in the Northeast. I might plan a trip using the western trains, but I'd have to figure out how to get to Chicago first, which becomes something of a disincentive to going at all.
I don’t know I had a pretty enjoyable trip on 97 recently. Sure the flex dining isn’t anything to write home about (I found the ones I’ve had ok for traveling food but not what I’d want at a restaurant) but I greatly enjoyed lounging around in the diner after eating chatting with some other passengers who were in there (all socially distanced at separate tables) and had a few drinks. I thought it was fun.
 

lordsigma

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Even if it is "Basic Survival" - having so many middlemen (management companies) involved in purchasing the food is an even worse idea.

Now would be a good time to rectify that situation and buy a better product for less cost without all the middlemen eating up money that should/could be spent on the actual food instead of the management of the food
I don’t know for a fact how they do it that was just a hypothesis - I have always heard Aramark managed the commissary service for them so I am assuming they are the ones that order everything for Amtrak - but if someone knows better please correct. I don’t think it’s a middleman as much as it is outright outsourcing with Aramark. With Aramark they don’t need to have Amtrak employees to worry about the tasks that Aramark takes care of for them - they can allow Aramark to use their buying power to procure From the suppliers they do business with.
 
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