• Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by SouthernRailway
 
Maybe Amtrak café cars on long-distance trains actually are appealing to their target audiences- maybe there has been market research done and the microwaved junk food in plastic wrap is appealing to people who Amtrak expects will use café cars?

I can't fathom, but maybe I'm just being snobby by expecting a choice of healthy, high-quality food (organic, sustainable, healthy, etc.) that actually tastes decent and didn't come from the Family Dollar frozen food section, but Amtrak riders don't really want that?
  by gokeefe
 
You might be on to something there. The Downeaster cafe by NexDine serves food that is one notch above Amtrak's Aramark service. It's good but it's certainly not what you would get from your local farmers market or farm to table cafe.

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  by SouthernRailway
 
gokeefe wrote: Sat May 30, 2020 3:56 pm You might be on to something there. The Downeaster cafe by NexDine serves food that is one notch above Amtrak's Aramark service. It's good but it's certainly not what you would get from your local farmers market or farm to table cafe.

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Thanks, I looked at the menu online. You're exactly right: it does have a few higher-quality items and "craft cocktails"- better!

Couldn't Amtrak at least get rid of the 1982-era microwaves? Sorry, pizza, covered in plastic wrap, and microwaved in a 1982-era microwave just doesn't do it for me.
  by photobug56
 
I rode Acela last Sepember - McD would be a huge step up from what they offered. Even a McD express like Penn Station used to have before Cuomo closed it.
  by gokeefe
 

SouthernRailway wrote:Thanks, I looked at the menu online. You're exactly right: it does have a few higher-quality items and "craft cocktails"- better!

Couldn't Amtrak at least get rid of the 1982-era microwaves? Sorry, pizza, covered in plastic wrap, and microwaved in a 1982-era microwave just doesn't do it for me.
They have a little convection oven as well that in the hands of the right cafe attendant can do amazing things especially if the cold dishes going in are a step above the freezer at Sam's Club.

There are some challenges here for Amtrak. First their current practices maximize shelf life and speed of service. They simply can't afford to have a 25 minute backup on a Northeast Regional. Second they really want to have a single national menu (and this is no small trick) and third they have to compete against high quality, mid priced options coming from the station concessionaires.

It's worth noting that the Downeaster has none of these challenges. Some spoilage is accepted. Lines are not overly long at the cafe and when ridership levels are high the cafe gets a second attendant. The menu is unique to the route and has a regional vendor with a commissary in Brunswick. And finally, perhaps most important of all, the only station with quick service food available is Boston. The rest of the stations have a vending machine at most and usually nothing at all.

This is a near perfect set of conditions that allows the Downeaster Cafe to set the bar for all other onboard cafe service aboard Amtrak. ;)

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  by njtmnrrbuff
 
There are multiple stations along the Downeaster route that are situated in business districts-Haverhill, Dover, Saco.
  by gokeefe
 
Oh yes absolutely. But only Boston has in station quick service food. As I write this I realize that Durham actually has the Dairy Bar. Dover may soon have a cafe as well. But "for now" whether pre-COVID or not there just isn't as much competition from the stations for the onboard services as what you see elsewhere on the Northeast Corridor.

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  by Rockingham Racer
 
gokeefe wrote: Sun May 31, 2020 12:22 pm Oh yes absolutely. But only Boston has in station quick service food. As I write this I realize that Durham actually has the Dairy Bar. Dover may soon have a cafe as well. But "for now" whether pre-COVID or not there just isn't as much competition from the stations for the onboard services as what you see elsewhere on the Northeast Corridor.

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Woburn has a Dunkin' Donuts. Don't know if that qualifies as "food" though. :wink:
  by Rockingham Racer
 
SouthernRailway wrote: Sun May 31, 2020 2:07 pm Thanks, gokeefe, as always, you make great points.

But why can't Amtrak have the following, from Norway's railway?

https://www.vy.no/en/travelling-with-us ... ?item=2634
I will say this, having traveled on NSB in January: forget about the ham and cheese sandwich. It was absolutley awful.
  by gokeefe
 

Rockingham Racer wrote:Woburn has a Dunkin' Donuts. Don't know if that qualifies as "food" though. :wink:
It definitely does for breakfast. Thanks for the heads up on that one. I've never been inside the Woburn station.



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  by SouthernRailway
 
Rockingham Racer wrote: Sun May 31, 2020 5:48 pm
SouthernRailway wrote: Sun May 31, 2020 2:07 pm Thanks, gokeefe, as always, you make great points.

But why can't Amtrak have the following, from Norway's railway?

https://www.vy.no/en/travelling-with-us ... ?item=2634
I will say this, having traveled on NSB in January: forget about the ham and cheese sandwich. It was absolutley awful.
Sorry to hear- so the descriptions may be better than the food actually is. Fair point.

I've had lunch on the X2000 in Sweden (brought to your seat by an attendant) and it was fine and the Swedish railway menu is https://www.sj.se/sv/reseinfo/mat-pa-taget.html

However Amtrak compares to other railroads, hopefully everyone can agree that the Flexible Dining breakfasts are awful, or at least not what someone paying nearly $400 for a 700-mile trip should get?
  by gokeefe
 

SouthernRailway wrote:However Amtrak compares to other railroads, hopefully everyone can agree that the Flexible Dining breakfasts are awful, or at least not what someone paying nearly $400 for a 700-mile trip should get?
Setting aside the global pandemic? Sure. It can and should be better.


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  by STrRedWolf
 
SouthernRailway wrote: Sun May 31, 2020 8:03 pm However Amtrak compares to other railroads, hopefully everyone can agree that the Flexible Dining breakfasts are awful, or at least not what someone paying nearly $400 for a 700-mile trip should get?
Comparing Flex Dining with Cafe? They're the same. Not worth it.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Volks, if the rail related provisions of this Invest 2020 Act, which as reported and discussed at another topic, are ever enacted by this or a succeeding Administration, heaven help the confusion such will cause Amtrak's plan to convert the twenty five V-II Diners to all-purpose (and passengers) Food and Beverage Cars.

I can see the edict now even clearer then when I noted such earlier in the topic. What if Amtrak moves forth with such a program and they are again required - this time by law - to offer Full Service Dining on all LD trains?

Will the possibility that these provisions be enacted cause Amtrak to "hold up" and allow the absurdity of the "First Class Dining and Lounge" experience to continue, and thus requiring the continued assignment of two cars dispensing food on the Single Level LD's? Enquiring mind wants to know.
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