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Bar Compartment on Superliners?

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Deni

Service Attendant
Joined
May 11, 2008
Messages
210
The thread about the possibility of bringing smoking back to Amtrak (bad idea and not legal to do in really any state or by Federal guidelines) got me to thinking about the old smoking compartments on the Superliners back in the late 90s/early 00s. I smoked back then (19 years as a non-smoker this month) and spent a lot of time in that compartment on my regular trips between Seattle and Chicago. It always seemed to develop in to a party down there with all the bad kids on the train having a lot of fun.

(Those of you who were never rode when they had these rooms, imagine one of the coach cars where the lower level coach section was an empty room with plastic chairs along the two walls, no carpeting, and a ventilation system to almost keep the smoke clear)

Though I don't miss smoking I do miss that space on the train. It was a place to be kind of loud and "party." It got me to thinking that what if Amtrak took that same idea and created an adults-only bar space instead? I'm thinking like a real bar with a real bartender who mixed drinks instead of just giving you a plastic bottle of booze and your mixer and a plastic glass of ice. Beers on tap if logistically possible (kegs might be too hard to deal with on a train), craft cocktails, craft beer, snack food like nuts and popcorn, etc.

I'm thinking you could probably have a few high top table and stools and standing space. I don't know what the capacity could be.

I don't know if it's economically feasible. But the old smoking compartments didn't have any income obviously. It would be a space for your more "rambunctious" riders to hang out and it keeps the Sightseer Lounge family friendly if those kind of folks have a place they can cut loose instead.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
3,168
The thread about the possibility of bringing smoking back to Amtrak (bad idea and not legal to do in really any state or by Federal guidelines) got me to thinking about the old smoking compartments on the Superliners back in the late 90s/early 00s. I smoked back then (19 years as a non-smoker this month) and spent a lot of time in that compartment on my regular trips between Seattle and Chicago. It always seemed to develop in to a party down there with all the bad kids on the train having a lot of fun.

(Those of you who were never rode when they had these rooms, imagine one of the coach cars where the lower level coach section was an empty room with plastic chairs along the two walls, no carpeting, and a ventilation system to almost keep the smoke clear)

Though I don't miss smoking I do miss that space on the train. It was a place to be kind of loud and "party." It got me to thinking that what if Amtrak took that same idea and created an adults-only bar space instead? I'm thinking like a real bar with a real bartender who mixed drinks instead of just giving you a plastic bottle of booze and your mixer and a plastic glass of ice. Beers on tap if logistically possible (kegs might be too hard to deal with on a train), craft cocktails, craft beer, snack food like nuts and popcorn, etc.

I'm thinking you could probably have a few high top table and stools and standing space. I don't know what the capacity could be.

I don't know if it's economically feasible. But the old smoking compartments didn't have any income obviously. It would be a space for your more "rambunctious" riders to hang out and it keeps the Sightseer Lounge family friendly if those kind of folks have a place they can cut loose instead.
They had smoking rooms in single level lounge cars as well. I never smoked but I agree it always looked like the place to be if you wanted to have a good time!
 

Deni

Service Attendant
Joined
May 11, 2008
Messages
210
They had smoking rooms in single level lounge cars as well. I never smoked but I agree it always looked like the place to be if you wanted to have a good time!
Yeah, I used one of those on a LSL trip one time. Much more cramped for sure. But still where all the bad kids hung out.
 

bms

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 29, 2018
Messages
331
Location
Cleveland
There was a smoking room in the lower level in both directions during my first California Zephyr ride between Chicago and Emeryville in 2001. We had a great time but now that I'm older than 20, it's not too smart to smoke!
 

Exvalley

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
376
An issue with Amtrak is always the staffing. Amtrak staff make much better wages than comparable service positions. So the question is whether or not the revenues would justify the increased staffing costs, including the sleeping accommodation that they would take up. Drinks tend to be a high profit item, so it could work, I suppose.
 
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Barb Stout

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
677
During a trip on the SWC (I think it was the SWC anyway) a few years back, my sister and I had a "fight" because I was snoring and refusing to wear my "snore guard" because it was gagging me, so I got mad and started wandering the train in the middle of the night. There was a group of primarily guys, but also 1 woman, who were drinking and playing cards in the lounge. They seemed to be having a real good time. Two or 3 crew members were in the next compartment and asked me a few questions about the partiers when I decided to leave. My answer was that they may have been drunk and loud, but weren't bothering anyone, just minding their own business playing cards, talking, laughing, and drinking. So I would say there already is such a place but it is ephemeral and disappears in the daylight.
Edit: I said "lounge", but it may have been a dining car, I don't really recall. But I believe it was on the upper level.
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
8,919
Location
Palm Beach County
When I was a (lot, lol) younger, I used to enjoy to "party hardy" in the lower level of the Sightseer lounge cars. Often a convivial group of young people would gather there, and take turns buying rounds. At closing time, the friendly attendant would sell us a few more rounds, and the party continued sometimes well past 'closing time'. Passengers wanting to enjoy quiet and the night time scenery would stay on the upper level, and were not bothered by us.
How many remember the electric piano in those lounges?:cool:
 

bms

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 29, 2018
Messages
331
Location
Cleveland
I've only encountered one wild bar scene on Amtrak, and that was on my first cross country trip on the Zephyr in 2002 when I was 21. This was in the days of smoking cars, and I was traveling with a friend who was a smoker. The Zephyr's LSA announced a sale on $2.00 margaritas. One of our smoking car friends bought the entire stock and a wild party ensued.
 

Michigan Mom

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 28, 2012
Messages
732
Location
MI
On the WB EB, a full 10 years ago, (Feb. 2012) there was a ski group that boarded in Seattle and was only on the train for one night... but what a night for the crews. The group must have brought their own drinks (although supposedly you couldn't do that in the coaches, only the sleepers) and they were up all night getting trashed, and apparently trashed the coach cabin they were in. We were in a family room and had no knowledge of anything except at breakfast, the entire dining car crew looked like the walking dead. I asked one if he was OK and he said none of them got any sleep the night before and couldn't wait for the ski group to leave.
 

Willbridge

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
729
Location
Denver
Westbound crossing Montana on the Mainstreeter in 1966 there was a party going on in the lounge in the afternoon. The attendant called "last call" as we approached Idaho. He was loudly asked why so early and he explained that the NP did not have a liquor license in Idaho. (Northwest college students knew to cross Idaho on the UP, which was in the Gem State with its low drinking age much longer.) The partyers learned that they could keep drinking into Idaho. They said they would order again in Washington.

Nope. It was Sunday and there was no liquor served in the Evergreen State on Sunday. That left only one alternative in the clouded minds in the lounge car. Someone ordered a case of beer, but all of the bottles had to be opened before we entered the Idaho Panhandle. Beer was widely distributed then because it was going to go flat.

The attendant handled it well and turned it into entertainment for everyone. This likely happened every so often.

In today's environment I'd vote for staffing the Superliner upstairs bar from 7 p.m. to midnight, kicked off with some sort of special. The attendant could assist in the dinner break for the snack bar if the cash register could be figured out and could assist with meals in the dining car.
 
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