Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

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STrRedWolf
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by STrRedWolf » Sat May 18, 2019 4:15 pm

More questions as I'm slowly getting in on this topic. I've had some of Amtrak's cafe car. What is the quality of the food with NexDine? If it's equal or better, then why isn't Amtrak using NexDine all over the place?
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by mtuandrew » Sat May 18, 2019 4:22 pm

Note also that the Downeaster Service has one supply base and several daily turns, meaning that there’s no need to have overnight lodging or supply bases around the country. It isn’t impossible for a private company to take it on (Xanterra? Sysco?) but it isn’t as simple as in Maine.

R36 Combine Coach
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by R36 Combine Coach » Sat May 18, 2019 6:30 pm

mtuandrew wrote:Note also that the Downeaster Service has one supply base and several daily turns, meaning that there’s no need to have overnight lodging or supply bases around the country. It isn’t impossible for a private company to take it on (Xanterra? Sysco?) but it isn’t as simple as in Maine.
Most of the other routes are under contract with Aramark as supplier. Caltrans has their own food concession service.
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.

gokeefe
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by gokeefe » Sun May 19, 2019 11:09 am

STrRedWolf wrote:More questions as I'm slowly getting in on this topic. I've had some of Amtrak's cafe car. What is the quality of the food with NexDine? If it's equal or better, then why isn't Amtrak using NexDine all over the place?
It is substantially better in my opinion based on comparative experience. The operating contract with the State of Maine (NNEPRA) allows the agency to choose a contractor to provide foodservice with Amtrak providing the cafe car.

The key points with regards to quality are 1. Availability of local craft beer and regional cuisine, 2. Creative approach to food prep (use of both microwave and convection oven), 3. Careful circulation of food stock and menu items, 4. Strong inventory management (aka don't run out of beer, wine, liquor or non-alcoholic beverages).

All of this is topped off with very friendly and familiar service (many of the Epicurean Feast employees were hired by NexDine).

It probably doesn't hurt that Boston sports teams make the playoffs a lot ... :wink:
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Sun May 19, 2019 2:08 pm

gokeefe wrote: It probably doesn't hurt that Boston sports teams make the playoffs a lot ... :wink:
.....and that SW Maine thinks of themselves as a Boston 'burb".

ExCon90
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by ExCon90 » Sun May 19, 2019 2:29 pm

STrRedWolf wrote:More questions as I'm slowly getting in on this topic. I've had some of Amtrak's cafe car. What is the quality of the food with NexDine? If it's equal or better, then why isn't Amtrak using NexDine all over the place?
I think the critical element that made it possible on the Downeaster is that both the passenger service and dining-car service were long gone, there having been no service at all since the last RDC came off; unlike the Empire Service, where the unions successfully prevented Subway from being substituted.

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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by R36 Combine Coach » Sun May 19, 2019 3:48 pm

ExCon90 wrote:On the Empire Service, where the unions successfully prevented Subway from being substituted.
Given Subway's trademark of freshly baked bread, I'm doubtful if a full size baking machine can be installed on an Amfleet. The Amfleet II can definitely use the same Turbo Chef type evens used at Subway (Diner Lite). I could see pre-package rolls on board and an oven for hot items (not sure if all Amfleet Is have the oven).
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.

bretton88
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by bretton88 » Sun May 19, 2019 5:31 pm

R36 Combine Coach wrote:
ExCon90 wrote:On the Empire Service, where the unions successfully prevented Subway from being substituted.
Given Subway's trademark of freshly baked bread, I'm doubtful if a full size baking machine can be installed on an Amfleet. The Amfleet II can definitely use the same Turbo Chef type evens used at Subway (Diner Lite). I could see pre-package rolls on board and an oven for hot items (not sure if all Amfleet Is have the oven).
Given the short run involved in NYC to Albany trains, I doubt Subway would have baked their bread on board. Probably have loaded it fresh on each end of the run.

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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by David Benton » Sun May 19, 2019 6:43 pm

From memory . it was just going to be a cart service. Cookies,snacks, cold beverages , and possibly limited subs , but no kind of preperation onboard.
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STrRedWolf
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by STrRedWolf » Sun May 19, 2019 8:35 pm

David Benton wrote:From memory . it was just going to be a cart service. Cookies,snacks, cold beverages , and possibly limited subs , but no kind of preperation onboard.
Ugh. That was destined to die quickly -- bad logistics. You could shoehorn a Subway into a regular Viewliner snack bar. Breads and cookies would need to be cooked daily and restocked along the route. The microwave ovens could be put in.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by R36 Combine Coach » Sun May 19, 2019 11:44 pm

STrRedWolf wrote: You could shoehorn a Subway into a regular Viewliner snack bar.
You mean a Viewliner diner or a diner lite configuration? I've been in both Budd (Heritage) and Viewliner diners at NTD events and they could fit a Subway oven inside. The Amfleets would do fine with "Turbo Chef". The Amfleet II diner lite would have enough cold storage for various meats, vegetables and condiments Subway carries.

Side note: could an Amfleet I be converted/upgraded to diner lite with ovens and added cold storage? The interior between Amfleet I and II seems similar enough.
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.

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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by Suburban Station » Mon May 20, 2019 8:16 am

STrRedWolf wrote:
David Benton wrote:From memory . it was just going to be a cart service. Cookies,snacks, cold beverages , and possibly limited subs , but no kind of preperation onboard.
Ugh. That was destined to die quickly -- bad logistics. You could shoehorn a Subway into a regular Viewliner snack bar. Breads and cookies would need to be cooked daily and restocked along the route. The microwave ovens could be put in.
subway would not actually be an improvement over what is offered now.

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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by mtuandrew » Mon May 20, 2019 8:48 am

R36 Combine Coach wrote:Side note: could an Amfleet I be converted/upgraded to diner lite with ovens and added cold storage? The interior between Amfleet I and II seems similar enough.
Don’t see why not. To what end - are you planning to offer diner-lite service on the NEC, or would they replace/supplement A-IIs on long-distance service?

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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by gokeefe » Mon May 20, 2019 9:41 pm

ExCon90 wrote:
STrRedWolf wrote:I think the critical element that made it possible on the Downeaster is that both the passenger service and dining-car service were long gone, there having been no service at all since the last RDC came off; unlike the Empire Service, where the unions successfully prevented Subway from being substituted.
According to well informed sources the cafe car was nearly a deal breaker at the very beginning. The ability of NNEPRA to contract out foodservice had to be negotiated.
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Re: Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion

Post by R36 Combine Coach » Fri May 24, 2019 12:21 am

mtuandrew wrote:
R36 Combine Coach wrote:Side note: could an Amfleet I be converted/upgraded to diner lite with ovens and added cold storage? The interior between Amfleet I and II seems similar enough.
Don’t see why not. To what end - are you planning to offer diner-lite service on the NEC, or would they replace/supplement A-IIs on long-distance service?
The 48100 series "Cafe/Business Class" (half dinette/half business class) would have been the ideal option if diner lite program were to be phased in on Amfleet Is. They tend to run the longer Amfleet routes (Vermonter, Ethan Allen, Empire Service/Maple Leaf and also overnight Regional) and could benefit from some light meal service on board. Some might recall that some medium distance Amfleet trains once served "tray meals/table service" on board.
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.

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