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Date: 01/10/20 19:33
Let me get this straight about dining
Author: RevRandy

Please help me understand.  As I read the various comments, I think the negative comments boil down to two points about the new meal service for sleeper passengers on the eastern routes:

1)  the food is terrible, the service is awful, the traditional dining experience (set hours, assigned seating to fill tables) is done, and one should avoid the food and food service car at all costs (e.g., bringing on supplies, having food delivered to stations, etc)
and

2) it is terrible that coach people cannot avail themselves of the dining experience offered in the Viewliner food service cars. 

Does this sum up the objections? 



Date: 01/10/20 19:55
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: MojaveBill

BYO which is what we did in the really old days. Fried Chicken was the favorite. And no one whined about it during a big war...

Bill Deaver
Mojave, CA



Date: 01/10/20 20:09
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: njfrn

I’d add a third objection that so-called flexible dining isn’t any more flexible than traditional dining if you have to reserve your TV dinner at a specific time. I suspect that wasn’t the intended service delivery model but it’s hard to see how it could be otherwise implemented with one person heating the meals and limited cooking capacity.



Date: 01/10/20 20:14
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: RuleG

RevRandy Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Please help me understand.  As I read the various
> comments, I think the negative comments boil down
> to two points about the new meal service for
> sleeper passengers on the eastern routes:
>
> 1)  the food is terrible, the service is awful,
> the traditional dining experience (set hours,
> assigned seating to fill tables) is done, and one
> should avoid the food and food service car at all
> costs (e.g., bringing on supplies, having food
> delivered to stations, etc)
> and
>
> 2) it is terrible that coach people cannot avail
> themselves of the dining experience offered in the
> Viewliner food service cars. 
>
> Does this sum up the objections? 

That's one way of looking at it.

My objection is that Amtrak, for reasons never convincingly explained, made changes which downgraded dining accommodations for both sleeping car and coach patrons.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/11/20 05:54 by RuleG.



Date: 01/10/20 21:52
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: RBLPG

In the last two weeks I was on the Silver Star twice, the Cardinal once, and the Zephyr. Silver Star has cafe service only, sleeper riders buy their food there.  I stocked up on food for the return trip on the Star.  The Cardinal has 'flexible dining'.  The lunch and dinner menus were the same. The food was awful.  I'm not comparing the food with previous trips on the Southern Pacific and Western Pacific in the 50's and 60's. The food was awful in and of itself. Breakfast was OK, but it's hard to mess up breakfast. The service was as bad as the food. I asked one server three times for water, it never came. When I sat in the diner on the Zephyr I thanked the staff over and over again for real food and excellent service.  They smiled in a way that told me they'd heard the same comments before. My bottom line: adjust to the situation.  On runs that have a diner, all is well.  On the other routes, take your own food. The wonder and excitement of rail travel ought not be derailed by our stomaches.         



Date: 01/10/20 22:09
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: NYC4096

RevRandy, another point is the fact that many of the prepared foods now served on such eastern trains have a high level of sodium which is unhealthy and a turnoff to potential diners.  As I understand it, some caterers use higher amounts of sodium and pepper (inexpensive) for food flavoring rather than various spices and other ingredients (more expensive) to create palatable and acceptable dishes.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/10/20 22:10 by NYC4096.



Date: 01/10/20 22:23
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: pdt

I'll try summing it up in 1 line...
"I can't bear to ride the train without my 1950's dining experience."



Date: 01/10/20 22:41
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: joemvcnj

pdt Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'll try summing it up in 1 line...
> "I can't bear to ride the train without my 1950's
> dining experience."

No. People go out to eat food, not $hit on a shingle. Sounds to me like you live in a rural food desert and content with anything.

The Greek style diners near me, say 2 miles, are usually crowded, hard to find parking at one of them off the highway. The Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, a bagel shop, and Tim Hortons are generally not. 2 Subways, a Quiznos, and the Pizza Hut Express are gone.

For Amtral cuisine, assuming no kidney issues, bring potassium capsules to neutralize the sodium ingestion.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/10/20 22:54 by joemvcnj.



Date: 01/10/20 23:06
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: aronco

In 1969 or 1970, I boarded the Super Chief at Albuquerque, going to Winslow.  I immediately went to the dining car (one did not call it a diner!), was greeted, seated, and reviewed the menu.  I finally selected the french boned lamp chops as an entre.  What a meal!  At one time, on our table there were 32 pieces of china, silver and glassware.  I realize the economics of restaurants have changed, but I will be damned if first class passengers are going to be pleased with mocrowave food in paper dishes served by one harried employee.

Norm

Norman Orfall
Helendale, CA
TIOGA PASS, a private railcar



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/10/20 23:06 by aronco.



Date: 01/11/20 03:25
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: pdt

joemvcnj Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> pdt Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > I'll try summing it up in 1 line...
> > "I can't bear to ride the train without my
> 1950's
> > dining experience."
>
> No. People go out to eat food, not $hit on a
> shingle. Sounds to me like you live in a rural
> food desert and content with anything.
>
> The Greek style diners near me, say 2 miles, are
> usually crowded, hard to find parking at one of
> them off the highway. The Dunkin Donuts, Burger
> King, a bagel shop, and Tim Hortons are generally
> not. 2 Subways, a Quiznos, and the Pizza Hut
> Express are gone.
>
> For Amtral cuisine, assuming no kidney issues,
> bring potassium capsules to neutralize the sodium
> ingestion.

wrong.  you have no idea where i live. But is was selected  by the New York Times this week, as #6 of the top 50 places in the world to visit in 2020, 

I just eat to live,  The are so many more things higher up the totem pole than food in my life. I dont mind a decent meal, but I grew up with pizza and burgers and diners and im fine with that.  Never ever got on a train, looking forward to the dining experience. And living on the road A LOT, you eat whats available, where u are, when ur finished working.. Personally, i would much rather pay less for a ticket and get my own food. I only need to eat once or twice a day anyway.  And my brother is a foodie,and his pickiness makes him embarrassing to go out to eat with.....for me anyway.   I tend not to get along with foodies that well, cause they just go on and on about it all, and i just dont care that much.  There's a Thomas Hill Organics in town, but i never go there....
From your posts, I'd say you live in the NY metro area.  NY, Long island, and CT are generally snob city (ok, xcpt New Haven and Norwalk). And if you say New Jersey, Im gonna laugh. Theres nothing but dinera and fast food in Jersey.  Personally I like Johnny's hot dog stand out 46, or the clinton diner on 78.  

I'm sorry you are losing your beloved dining car,,but they are too expensive to operate, and too many ppl out there like me, who are  not traditional diners.   :)



Date: 01/11/20 03:31
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: Molino

MojaveBill Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> BYO which is what we did in the really old days.
> Fried Chicken was the favorite. And no one whined
> about it during a big war...

Twenty years ago when we boarded the city of New Orleans and rode up to Chicago there were chicken bones all over the floor of our car!  

The Conductor shook his head and said it's just like this,  that's why the train is called the "chicken bone express'"  Lol   

Crazy that the attendent's wouldn't even bother trying to keep the car clean, I wonder if it's still that way?   



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/12/20 04:23 by Molino.



Date: 01/11/20 04:11
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: joemvcnj

And if you say New Jersey, Im gonna laugh. Theres nothing but diners and fast food in Jersey.  Personally I like Johnny's hot dog stand out 46, or the clinton diner on 78. >

That's right New Jersey. Diners are just fine, like independent Greek diners, Clinton route 78, IHOP. It is fresh cooked food. It is not fast food. It is not a hot dog stand. You're equating them is what is quite laughable. Evidently, Amtrak doesn't know better either. There are plenty of expensive higher end restaurants in every borough too. That is not what we are asking for. 

Eating 1 or 2 meals a day is not healthy and drives up glucose levels in a lot of people.  Have you heard of "Dawn Phenomona" ? It drives up A1C levels even when not genuine diabetic. It is not  matter of being a "foodie".  

Baby Boomers, including this one, are likely to live a longer than Millenials on average due to their diet of Panera Bread, Dunkin,  and Starbucks, following their high rates of childhood obesity, with soda and junk food vending machines  and chocolate milk in schools.



Date: 01/11/20 05:12
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: DrawingroomA

I am bemused by the repetitious snide comments suggesting that anyone who wants decent food served in a civilised setting is stuck in the 1950s. When I travel in a premium section of an aeroplane (call it First Class, Business Class, Club Class - whatever it is) I expect some reasonably good food and service. The same applies to a good hotel and even the cheapest accommodation on a quality ship.

Whilst at home I do not indulge in fine dining on a daily basis - I'm partial to a good burger or a pub lunch or fish and chips, etc. - but when I pay a considerable amount for travel I expect something better. One does not have to prefer everything to be like it was in the 1950s in order to appreciate good taste. It does exist in the 21st century.



Date: 01/11/20 06:20
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: ronald321

If you believe that "real" dining car service is a hold-over from the past - or dining cars should be a profit center in themselves -
or coach passengers don't uses diners -  then you are an enemy of the passenger train,  You are a "bean counter" who wants
passenger trains reduced to its lowest level.

You are not looking at passenger trains from the customer's point of view (bean counters never do)

When so-called train fans agree that downgrading dining cars is a good thing - then they are blind helpers of Anderson and his goal
of eliminating long haul trains.



Date: 01/11/20 06:33
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: goneon66

what IF there were staffed diners cooking good hot food to order and charged prices to cover costs (food, staffing levels, equipment, etc.) and food was NOT included with the price of a sleeper ticket.

just keep the diner open to the whole train and see how many people will pay the extremely high costs of a good hot meal prepared to order. 

if this was the case, i doubt this type of diner would last very long today.  people would complain about the high costs and most likely not support it.........

66



Date: 01/11/20 07:04
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: ronald321

There is no difference between the long-haul train rider of today--and his counter part of the past.

Both are on the train for many hours & It should be obvious  that a full service diner is an asset to the customer.

Full service diners are an asset that differentiates trains from other forms of transportation  - blind cost cutters can't see this.
Most companies would kill for anything that makes their product more valuable to their customers.

Aderson doesn't care about any of this -  he wants out of the long-haul business - he told us so.
And cost-cutting train fans are his ally - because they can't see that "cost cutting" is really a "customer downgrade"
which will set the stage for train-offs.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/11/20 07:06 by ronald321.



Date: 01/11/20 07:18
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: DJ-12

The concept is not difficult. First class passengers that have a meal or meals included in their fare should expect to receive a hot meal of with reasonable quality and nutritional standards. Every meal should offer at least one option with protein that is not laden with sugar and carbs. That is a necessity for diabetics. Also, anyone on the train, including coach passengers that want a meal should be able to purchase one.

A gourmet 4 star meal is not a requirement. Amtrak has never provided such on any train I’ve ever ridden, but until recently the food was always reasonably good. That is not an unreasonable standard to be expected, because comparable travel options around the world offer it, and because until very recently, Amtrak did as well.

After enduring the disaster of the contemporary dining breakfast last year on the westbound Cap, I won’t ever by a first class ticket on an eastern route again until this is fixed. Of course, that’s what Anderson wants anyways.

Posted from iPhone



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/11/20 07:23 by DJ-12.



Date: 01/11/20 07:24
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: viatrainrider

DrawingroomA Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I am bemused by the repetitious snide comments
> suggesting that anyone who wants decent food
> served in a civilised setting is stuck in the
> 1950s. When I travel in a premium section of an
> aeroplane (call it First Class, Business Class,
> Club Class - whatever it is) I expect some
> reasonably good food and service. The same applies
> to a good hotel and even the cheapest
> accommodation on a quality ship.

Well said, DrawingroomA!
>
> Whilst at home I do not indulge in fine dining on
> a daily basis - I'm partial to a good burger or a
> pub lunch or fish and chips, etc. - but when I pay
> a considerable amount for travel I expect
> something better. One does not have to prefer
> everything to be like it was in the 1950s in order
> to appreciate good taste. It does exist in the
> 21st century.



Date: 01/11/20 07:28
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: co614

Here's an idea. What if....we kept the full service dining car on all LDT's and when a customer made a sleeper reservation they were asked to choose whether or not they wished to make a meal reservation(s) covering their journey at fixed prices for each meal. In example if you were booking a roomette on # 97 Phila. - West Palm Beach, Fl. you would be asked if you'd like to book your , supper $ 60, your b'fast $ 30 and your lunch $ 45 at that time. If not you would be able to change your mind onboard and pay a 20% penalty for last minute decison.  say you booked on # 5 Chicago-Emeryville you would be asked if you'd like to reserve your 2 bfasts @ $ 30, your two lunches @ $ 45 and your two suppers @ $ 60.  Again if you passed you could change your mind onboard ( subject to availability) by paying the above prices plus a 20% penalty. 

   This way the company will have a fairly strong idea of the food needed to feed the 1st. class folks and at those prices most if not all of the real out of pocket costs will be met??

   If demand shows its not at all popular then fine ditch it.

   Just a thought. Ross Rowland 



Date: 01/11/20 08:02
Re: Let me get this straight about dining
Author: Lackawanna484

Airlines make similar demands of passengers, and it seems to work just fine.  Want to select your own seats, and keep your family together?  $25 each.  Want to board in the A-1+ group?  Not a problem, $20 more.



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