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New dining options (flex dining) effective October 1, 2019

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Palmetto

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I consider the Cafe car an option. My problem with it is it isn't open at all times. I got on in Gainesvile, GA the other night at 11:01 pm (2 hours late). I rushed to the Cafe car only to be told that it closed at 11:00...! I assume the employee lives in Greenville or Spartanburg or Gastonia, as they would normally be working until 11:00 and if the train had been on schedule, they would have to be on the train until then. I have to also assume that when the train is late, they are still being paid...probably overtime. So why not keep the Cafe car open for those who might be a little hungry after waiting 2 hours for the train to arrive...? I still wonder if something more than a hot dog or snacks will be available for those Coach passengers on the Crescent...with respect to the elimination of the Diner.
The 24-hour service model, which was apparently successfully tried but dropped, would have worked perfectly for you.
 

PVD

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The problem with a 24 hour service model is cost vs revenue. You would need an additional staff person, someone would be working during hours when very little revenue is likely to be gained, and the accounting systems would have to change since more than one person would now be handling money and inventory. It would be a positive for some folks, for sure, but probably a major loser financially, making it a non starter under present and any forseeable set of budget rules.
 

Barb Stout

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I suppose this could work out to be an experiment in determining what is the true transportation service demand as opposed to experiential service demand.
Not entirely. The experiential aspect that's important to me is being able to view the beautiful countryside while not having to watch traffic and getting swayed to sleep. I don't care very much about food. I too am one of those that think that Amtrak should carve off the food and bev from the sleeper cost and have everyone pay for however much or little food they want.
 

Anderson

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I consider the Cafe car an option. My problem with it is it isn't open at all times. I got on in Gainesvile, GA the other night at 11:01 pm (2 hours late). I rushed to the Cafe car only to be told that it closed at 11:00...! I assume the employee lives in Greenville or Spartanburg or Gastonia, as they would normally be working until 11:00 and if the train had been on schedule, they would have to be on the train until then. I have to also assume that when the train is late, they are still being paid...probably overtime. So why not keep the Cafe car open for those who might be a little hungry after waiting 2 hours for the train to arrive...? I still wonder if something more than a hot dog or snacks will be available for those Coach passengers on the Crescent...with respect to the elimination of the Diner.
There's really no good protocol on this front, particularly in places where station locations are lousy and/or the station has no restaurant to speak of. At least at RVR, there's a McDonald's next door (and CVS is nicely located as well), but DLD? There's a biker bar across the street and a steakhouse about a mile away, but the steakhouse doesn't really help if you don't know the Star is going to be stupidly late until after it leaves Orlando.
 

Barb Stout

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The problem with a 24 hour service model is cost vs revenue. You would need an additional staff person, someone would be working during hours when very little revenue is likely to be gained, and the accounting systems would have to change since more than one person would now be handling money and inventory. It would be a positive for some folks, for sure, but probably a major loser financially, making it a non starter under present and any forseeable set of budget rules.
On-site vending machines. Somewhere. lol
 

Skyline

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Not entirely. The experiential aspect that's important to me is being able to view the beautiful countryside while not having to watch traffic and getting swayed to sleep. I don't care very much about food. I too am one of those that think that Amtrak should carve off the food and bev from the sleeper cost and have everyone pay for however much or little food they want.


...and if the food, service, etc. are good enough people will keep the diner busy all hours it can be open. Further, people will flock to trains that offer these and other perks. Sure, let the pax decide when, where and what to purchase instead of forcing them to pay for food as part of an overpriced sleeper.
 
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lordsigma

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I consider the Cafe car an option. My problem with it is it isn't open at all times. I got on in Gainesvile, GA the other night at 11:01 pm (2 hours late). I rushed to the Cafe car only to be told that it closed at 11:00...! I assume the employee lives in Greenville or Spartanburg or Gastonia, as they would normally be working until 11:00 and if the train had been on schedule, they would have to be on the train until then. I have to also assume that when the train is late, they are still being paid...probably overtime. So why not keep the Cafe car open for those who might be a little hungry after waiting 2 hours for the train to arrive...? I still wonder if something more than a hot dog or snacks will be available for those Coach passengers on the Crescent...with respect to the elimination of the Diner.
For now, the café car is your only option. There is talk about them offering the flexdining meals to coach once they get the web application up to allow pre-selection of meals. (Sounds like when that's up and running coach passengers would be REQUIRED to preorder to get a meal.
 
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Prepared foods and fast foods are quite often very high in sodium. Anyone who regularly reads nutrition labels would not be surprised. The sinister part of it is how many foods are chock full of sodium, even though there is no hint of it in the taste....I enjoyed my traditional diner visits, but I don't think they were much better on the nutrition scale. One plus is the flexible times rather than reservation, a concept that has become increasingly popular on cruise ships.
PVD--I agree with you completely--although I am always praising diner breakfasts (especially my south Jersey diner ones:)), I would be the last person to say they are healthy. My thought is that, if you are going to inhale all that sodium, sugar, carbohydrate, etc., it might as well be something that looks appealing and tastes delicious, instead of the same unhealthy ingredients in a dish that looks awful and doesn't taste anywhere near as good.
 

Qapla

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The problem with a 24 hour service model is cost vs revenue. You would need an additional staff person,
It would not take any additional staff if there were adequate vending machines onboard the train for snack and drink items. Today's vending machines are very flexible/capable/reliable and take various means of payment.
 

crescent-zephyr

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On the meteor now. Crew is friendly but this is not good. Food is TV dinner quality, not as good as domestic first class meals in my opinion.

Also a pretty small portion, i still feel hungry after eating lunch.

No mention of the free drink, also wasn’t offered any dessert but I don’t think I can have the brownie or cookie so it doesn’t matter.

My first time in the new viewliner diners.... they are so beautiful. A bit painful.
 

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pennyk

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On the meteor now. Crew is friendly but this is not good. Food is TV dinner quality, not as good as domestic first class meals in my opinion.

Also a pretty small portion, i still feel hungry after eating lunch.

No mention of the free drink, also wasn’t offered any dessert but I don’t think I can have the brownie or cookie so it doesn’t matter.

My first time in the new viewliner diners.... they are so beautiful. A bit painful.
Do they provide an ingredient list with the entrees? Do you know if one could order the noodle bowl without the sauce? You should ask for your free drink. I believe it is one per trip. Maybe they will wait until dinner to offer the drinks. The crew is just learning the new protocol.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Do they provide an ingredient list with the entrees? Do you know if one could order the noodle bowl without the sauce? You should ask for your free drink. I believe it is one per trip. Maybe they will wait until dinner to offer the drinks. The crew is just learning the new protocol.
No ingredients list. I may ask if I get the chance, they took my order for both lunch and dinner already.

I’m not blaming the crew, the LSA came out and asked how my food was, said she’s trying her best but it’s all new to her.

Crew is taking up 2 booths in the diner though. Just stating a fact. Doesn’t bug me as it’s nothing new. Ha.
 

Dakota 400

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On the meteor now. Crew is friendly but this is not good. Food is TV dinner quality, not as good as domestic first class meals in my opinion.

Also a pretty small portion, i still feel hungry after eating lunch.

No mention of the free drink, also wasn’t offered any dessert but I don’t think I can have the brownie or cookie so it doesn’t matter.

My first time in the new viewliner diners.... they are so beautiful. A bit painful.
The food doesn't even look as good as a Swanson frozen dinner and certainly not most of the Stouffer's entrees. Such a very poor use of the Viewliner diners!
 

PVD

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The vending machines of today are quite capable, but they still need to be inventoried, stocked, and cleaned, and dealt with when they don't work. someone has to perform that work. How many customers will accept the fact that if they lose money at 3AM, they have no one to help them. I'm not sure I see a way to make it worth it for the amount of extra business available from those who want overnight food. Most, but certainly not all, could be by the purchase of food/drinks before closing, or before boarding for those coming on overnight. While it would be a nice added feature, I don't see it being worth it.
 

JRR

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Not entirely. The experiential aspect that's important to me is being able to view the beautiful countryside while not having to watch traffic and getting swayed to sleep. I don't care very much about food. I too am one of those that think that Amtrak should carve off the food and bev from the sleeper cost and have everyone pay for however much or little food they want.
So how much would the ticket price be reduced if the F&B would be carved off?

Whatever that amount is , it represents the actual amount of revenue properly attributed to F&B.

I am not saying that is how AMTRAK actually calculates revenue from F&B since no one seems to know how they calculate revenue.

Until that is determined, there is no way to know whether F&B costs are more than revenue or how much, if any, costs need to be reduced to meet the congressional mandate!
 

crescent-zephyr

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The food doesn't even look as good as a Swanson frozen dinner and certainly not most of the Stouffer's entrees. Such a very poor use of the Viewliner diners!
It's not. I thought the food would be a step up from what I had when the City of New Orleans switched over but it's about the same. Which is very poor quality.

People aren't sure what to do with all the trash they have left over so some people just leave it at the table. Naturally the crew just sits and chats in the booths and doesn't keep the car clean. I love listening to the crews complain about the amount of work in the new system as they sit down in the booths meant for passengers. Classic Amtrak.

I'm still happy to be on the train vs. flying though... I've missed Long distance trains.
 

pennyk

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No ingredients list. I may ask if I get the chance, they took my order for both lunch and dinner already.

I’m not blaming the crew, the LSA came out and asked how my food was, said she’s trying her best but it’s all new to her.
Thanks. That is a bit discouraging.
 

City of Miami

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After sitting in the CVS station for almost an hour #50 finally crossed my field of vision: NO DINER. The usual consist. I guess "after Oct 1st" doesn't mean what I thought it meant. To this we have come.
 

Palmetto

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Someone on trainorders rode the City of New Orleans. Liked the flexible dining experience. I'm sure there's others out there who'll chime in on various groups.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Here’s dinner. The potatoes don’t resemble potatoes in taste or texture. The beef is... ok?

Was told I would just go to the diner and give my room number when I was ready to eat.... but then at 6:00 my attendant came with my meal and said “they made your food so I brought it to you” - I think that’s just confusion cause of the first day but I really wanted to eat in the diner and a bit later. On the plus side, they brought a little table cloth for my roomette table. Also brought a Brownie and a roll, neither of which I can eat, even though I ordered a meal which is listed as gluten free.

Oh yeah... and the only salad dressing option is Heinz ranch served in ketchup size packets. Keeps getting better and better.
 

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AmtrakBlue

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Here’s dinner. The potatoes don’t resemble potatoes in taste or texture. The beef is... ok?
Those aren't potatoes. They're Polenta.

RED WINE BRAISED BEEF With pearl onions, carrots and mushrooms served with Polenta and Haricot Vert. Served with a side salad and a specialty dessert.

"Polenta usually gets cooked low and slow on the stove (though there IS an instant version) with any combination of water, milk, cream and butter. ... Polenta is made from a corn variety that grows in Italy known as flint corn. It holds its shape better than the Southern US corn used for grits, which is called dent corn"
 

crescent-zephyr

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Well that explains that.... I thought they tasted more like grits ha. : -p

Great train over all. On time, surprisingly smooth for csx, super nice and personable attendant. Don’t want anyone to think I’m hating the trip, just not impressed with the food.

Honestly I could get used to the service model, it has its own pros and cons like the traditional dining.
 

lordsigma

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After sitting in the CVS station for almost an hour #50 finally crossed my field of vision: NO DINER. The usual consist. I guess "after Oct 1st" doesn't mean what I thought it meant. To this we have come.
Perhaps the cardinal will have one on the next trip since it is a thrice weekly train - just a guess though.
 
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