Quantcast

Will dining cars resume 12/15/20?/Flexible dining extended to May 2021?

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Manny T

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 7, 2015
Messages
508
Location
Chicago IL
It's very difficult to predict the future. If the question is, will full service dining ever return, I would ask, when in the past did Amtrak ever upgrade its dining, or has the past been nothing but a series of escalating downgrades in quality, options and service?

While I remember many past downgrades, the only "upgrade" I remember (upgrade in quotes) is when the boxes of cold food were replaced by hot TV dinners. This was, arguably, an upgrade. Aside from that, I don't recall an upgrade.

So I think the best we can expect from Amtrak is some tinkering with the current "contemporary" dining.

Going backwards to something better would really surprise me. I would love to be proven wrong.
 

joelkfla

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
312
It's very difficult to predict the future. If the question is, will full service dining ever return, I would ask, when in the past did Amtrak ever upgrade its dining, or has the past been nothing but a series of escalating downgrades in quality, options and service?

While I remember many past downgrades, the only "upgrade" I remember (upgrade in quotes) is when the boxes of cold food were replaced by hot TV dinners. This was, arguably, an upgrade. Aside from that, I don't recall an upgrade.

So I think the best we can expect from Amtrak is some tinkering with the current "contemporary" dining.

Going backwards to something better would really surprise me. I would love to be proven wrong.
Wasn't there a brief time when they had "guest chefs" shown on the website, who purportedly created one selection per meal?

And I didn't experience it personally, but I think I recall people saying the Contemporary Cafe food was upgraded after lots of complaints.
 

lordsigma

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
1,007
The “official position” is that traditional dining will return when the pandemic is over - presumably only to the western trains. Id rather see them have a date on it rather than just take any mention of it off the website.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
3,015
It's very difficult to predict the future. If the question is, will full service dining ever return, I would ask, when in the past did Amtrak ever upgrade its dining, or has the past been nothing but a series of escalating downgrades in quality, options and service?

While I remember many past downgrades, the only "upgrade" I remember (upgrade in quotes) is when the boxes of cold food were replaced by hot TV dinners. This was, arguably, an upgrade. Aside from that, I don't recall an upgrade.

So I think the best we can expect from Amtrak is some tinkering with the current "contemporary" dining.

Going backwards to something better would really surprise me. I would love to be proven wrong.
Oh it’s happened before. It was called “simplified dining.” The Bob Evans breakfast scramble was a little better than current flex dining meals but not by much.

There was also the original version of the cross country cafe, which went back to standard dining car menus very quickly although I feel like that concept was actually pretty good, just not given a fair try.
 
Last edited:

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,957
Location
Ithaca, NY
Amtrak has upgraded their dining in the past, at least twice that I remember, between downgrades.

Obviously nothing is coming back until the new administration is in office (Jan 20) and proper federal action is being taken on the pandemic. At this point when lobbying I am lobbying for a return of decent food in March.
 

Mailliw

Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 14, 2020
Messages
151
Location
Northeast PA
On the California Zephyr, there is a SCA that "tries" to convince his passengers there is an elevator to the top of the car where a swimming pool is located. I'll bet that the outdoor dining is in above an adjacent car next to the pool.
Reminds me of an old film from the '30s, Non-Stop New York. Most of it takes place on a ccomically extravagant transatlantic airliner, complete with private staterooms and a smoking balcony! And no, this wasn't a zeppelin.
 

Ziv

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 25, 2011
Messages
699
Will full service dining ever return? I don't know, but my Dad told me that anytime I said always or never, the odds were that I would eventually be proven wrong. Most of us think that what is currently happening will continue, even when it is a once in a century pandemic.
I don't know when this pandemic will ease, but I do believe in the blessing/curse that "This too shall pass."
Hopefully sooner rather than later.
I doubt full service dining will ever return. I wish they would add sandwiches cold and hot,burgers and those pizzas they serve in the cafe car. Eating that same food for a two or three day trip gets old fast.
 

Sauve850

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 9, 2014
Messages
565
Location
West Palm Beach, Florida
Will full service dining ever return? I don't know, but my Dad told me that anytime I said always or never, the odds were that I would eventually be proven wrong. Most of us think that what is currently happening will continue, even when it is a once in a century pandemic.
I don't know when this pandemic will ease, but I do believe in the blessing/curse that "This too shall pass."
Hopefully sooner rather than later.
I think your Dad was correct. Lots of things are cyclical. The stocks Ive owned, relationships and Amtrak's dining. Things go up and down. Current food service I think is at the bottom and sooner or later is due for a bounce up to better dining :)
 

me_little_me

Conductor
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,494
I think it important from a safety point of view to watch out for low bridges on some routes...
Some of us are smart enough not to stand up while dining al fresco on a train. Of course, for some of us, our vertical displacement allows us to watch others get headaches while we get an opportunity to put graffiti on the underside of the bridge and leave the police wondering how it was done.
 

TRoberts

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
24
Location
Chattanooga TN
I would ask, when in the past did Amtrak ever upgrade its dining, or has the past been nothing but a series of escalating downgrades in quality, options and service?
I remember in like 2007-ish I went down to ride the Crescent from Atlanta to Birmingham and back in the same day specifically because they were bringing back some cooked to order items. I can't remember what I had for breakfast but I specifically ordered a steak and baked potato.
 

Willbridge

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
643
Location
Denver
Amtrak has upgraded their dining in the past, at least twice that I remember, between downgrades.

Obviously nothing is coming back until the new administration is in office (Jan 20) and proper federal action is being taken on the pandemic. At this point when lobbying I am lobbying for a return of decent food in March.
Yes, Amtrak dining car history could be graphed like the Dow Jones averages. For a while they even had Rocky Mountain Trout (the D&RGW specialty) on the Colorado segment of the California Zephyr.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
21,298
Location
Austin Texas
Yes, Amtrak dining car history could be graphed like the Dow Jones averages. For a while they even had Rocky Mountain Trout (the D&RGW specialty) on the Colorado segment of the California Zephyr.
All the Trains had Regional Specialties @ one time, including Catfish,Virginia Ham, Cajan Food, Bourbon Pecan Pie and Bar-B-Q on the Southern Trains and California,Oregon and Washington Wines and Cheeses on the Starlight and Empire Builder
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
8,653
Location
Palm Beach County
I recall several occasions when Amtrak's catering product was the easy target during one budget crisis after another. After they eliminated china, linens, stainless flatware, and fresh flowers on the tables, to a bare bones paper plate and plastic service, some of the nicer touches returned. Silk flowers, paper table cloth's, better quality disposable ware, etc. The same with the food. While it was never as drastic a cut as was recently, they did improve the fare somewhat, first on one focus train, then expanded to other's. There was a time when all chef's were sent to the prestigious Culinary Institute of America for a special course designed by the CIA just for them, in the early '90's...
 

bms

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 29, 2018
Messages
264
Location
Cleveland
Hopefully President-elect Biden names a new CEO, who realizes that Amtrak ordered these Dining Cars for dining!
 

tgstubbs1

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
384
Hopefully President-elect Biden names a new CEO, who realizes that Amtrak ordered these Dining Cars for dining!
But Biden is extremely 'Virus conscious'
so the open air dining will require open air cars, which later ( post virus) can be used by those who prefer to smoke or chew without having to get off the train.
 

Ziv

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 25, 2011
Messages
699
I believe the Empire Builder had Puget Sound Halibut as a special way back in the day. I ordered it when I was traveling with my father and it was simply outstanding! This was mid-1970's.

All the Trains had Regional Specialties @ one time, including Catfish,Virginia Ham, Cajan Food, Bourbon Pecan Pie and Bar-B-Q on the Southern Trains and California,Oregon and Washington Wines and Cheeses on the Starlight and Empire Builder
 

jiml

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
2,306
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
The only thing consistent about Amtrak food is its inconsistency. Even in a period that dining was supposedly declining, I took the EB to Seattle 3 summers ago (seems like forever:( ) to meet up with my wife, who was returning from a cruise. Had the steak for dinner and it was so good I ordered it again the next night, as did many seated nearby.
 

joelkfla

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
312
All the Trains had Regional Specialties @ one time, including Catfish,Virginia Ham, Cajan Food, Bourbon Pecan Pie and Bar-B-Q on the Southern Trains and California,Oregon and Washington Wines and Cheeses on the Starlight and Empire Builder
Like VIA's Canadian.
 

MrNews

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 26, 2011
Messages
24
Location
Tampa Bay, FL
I remember having the steak (cooked to order) & baked potato on my first LD train trip, Silver Service sleeper TPA-WAS. That was in 2010, and it was impressive, and it's a shame they've downgraded so much. Took the same route in September '19, with no dining at all, just snacks, so we brought our own for the ~22 hour trip. Okay, but not nearly as much fun. I, for one, would be willing to pay a premium for fine(r) dining, as the journey (for me) is a major part of the fun of train travel. But I do not expect a company/country with such a deemphasis on long-distance mass transit to really invest in it...
 

niemi24s

Conductor
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,427
A high bucket Bedroom on the EB from CHI to PDX for two adults would be $2464 - maybe juuuust enough for a sprig of parsley with those scrambled eggs!
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
3,015
A high bucket Bedroom on the EB from CHI to PDX for two adults would be $2464 - maybe juuuust enough for a sprig of parsley with those scrambled eggs!
Careful... the next post will be “I mean if you care about garnishes that’s fine but I’m just paying for transportation.”

Or my favorite...

“I was raised to not expect such things like garnishes on my plate.”
 

Sidney

Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
144
Heading to Florida from Philly next month. I took advantage of the half off Coach sale. Adding a roomette would have tacked on over $400 each way.No way can I justify that price for a one night trip with flex dining. Having the seat next to you vacant the entire trip is the only reason I 'm not driving or flying.
 
Top