Creative dining on Amtrak

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by kef771, May 23, 2019.

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  1. May 23, 2019 #1

    kef771

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    Getting ready for our long trip NOL to BOS on Saturday-Sunday. Obviously, we will eat in the actual dining car at least once, but not looking to spend a ton of money on that. Is it still true that we’d be able to use the microwave in the cafe car? Thinking of creative, microwaveable options if that’s the case, like noodle cups, Mac n cheese, etc.
     
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  2. May 23, 2019 #2

    tricia

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    None of Amtrak's trains will allow you to use a microwave on board. You can, however, get hot water (for noodle cups etc) from the cafe car attendant.

    A cooler, with ice or cold packs, can be helpful for packing fresh foods, and Amtrak certainly allows you to bring one on board as part of your carry-on allowance.
     
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  3. May 23, 2019 #3

    kef771

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    Thank you! For some reason, I thought I remembered being able to microwave things, but it’s definitely been a long time. Glad to know before we leave.
     
  4. May 23, 2019 #4

    pennyk

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    I cannot remember a time when passengers were permitted to use Amtrak microwaves.
     
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  5. May 24, 2019 #5

    tim49424

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    Neither do I. Federal health standards won't allow it.
     
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  6. May 24, 2019 #6

    junebug

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    I like to tip the cafe car attendants even if I'm just getting hot water. I tend to drink a lot of tea. Is it just me that tips for that?

    And FYI, I've tried to make oatmeal with the hot water.. no dice, it comes out awful.
     
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  7. May 24, 2019 #7

    MARC Rider

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    But they have them for customer use at various convenience stores, Whole Foods, etc. And there are vending machines that heat up stuff, too. Amtrak food service must come under different regulations.
     
  8. May 24, 2019 #8

    tim49424

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    Amtrak is a government entity, so yes, they do.
     
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  9. May 24, 2019 #9

    PerRock

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    The old Automat cars had microwaves passengers could use. http://www.trainweb.com/cgi-bin/pho...t/+accommod/automat.html#sthash.YvEXLgXD.dpbs But Amtrak hasn't run one of those is ages.

    peter
     
  10. May 24, 2019 #10

    Devil's Advocate

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    Most of the time if a counter is involved I do not tip. However, in my personal experience the cafe attendants can be some of the friendliest people on the train, so I sometimes tip even if it's just for a cup of ice.

    So far as I am aware the primary restriction is that you cannot mix commercial food and guest meals in the same area or appliance. Everything has to be divided in such a way that prevents casual or accidental contamination. It's possible Amtrak could provide guest accessible microwaves, but they would need to be separate and distinct from the current setup. For instance, they could put them in the unused snack area at the top of a Superliner lounge car or in the coffee nook of a Superliner sleeper and probably steer clear of contamination rules. The problem that might outweigh the benefit is that some people will heat up smelly food or leave a disgusting mess behind. In a hotel room any mess or smell is mostly contained, while at work if you leave a mess or stink up the place you risk hearing about it from a manager, whereas on Amtrak there is not an obvious method or protocol to prevent people from becoming a nuisance.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2019
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  11. May 24, 2019 #11

    zepherdude

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    It would be a mess with food everywhere. overcooked soup and oatmeal all over the inside. Burger wrappers, hot chocolate, best leave it alone.
     
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  12. May 24, 2019 #12

    Dakota 400

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    Sitting in the Cafe Car on the Silver Meteor, I could see the interaction between the SA and his customers. None of the customers that I saw left a tip in his container. He was a very pleasant employee and did a good job, quickly, from what I observed. But, he also had a somewhat sad, depressed look on his face. When I decided I wanted a drink and he served it and I paid for it, I put some money into his tip container. He smiled and said "thank you". Returning to my seat in the Car, I was glad to see that he seemed "happier". I continued to leave a tip and always received the same reaction from him.

    I'm pleased to leave a gratuity for good, pleasant service. He deserved it.
     
  13. May 25, 2019 #13

    PaTrainFan

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    Here's my take on tips in Amtrak world vs. the real world: Generally speaking restaurant workers are paid much lower than the minimum wage, and unless the service horrendous, I almost always give a 20% tip, and usually in cash if that's at all helpful to them. They have a hard top for dirt wages. But Amtrak personnel are union and get pretty decent, certainly "living," wages. While I am likely to tip if the service is acceptable, it is far less than 20%. Am I wrong in my thinking?
     
  14. May 25, 2019 #14

    Bob Dylan

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    Nope,every one has to follow their own ideas and yours sounds right for you!
     
  15. May 25, 2019 #15

    toddinde

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    It’s a really bad idea. Bring a sandwich or two and if you want something hot buy it in the diner or cafe. Jeez. If you can afford a cross country train trip you can afford a hot dog and a cup of coffee in the cafe car.
     
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  16. May 25, 2019 #16

    toddinde

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    Tip the dining car waiters as you would in a restaurant.
     
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  17. May 25, 2019 #17

    ehbowen

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    I agree with this in general, but in a restaurant I know the waiter / waitress is essentially working for tips only...so I don't withhold tips unless things are bad enough to justify calling a manager. Aboard Amtrak the wait staff is making a decent base wage and there's really no manager to call...think the conductor will really care about sloppy service or a bad attitude? So if the service is professional, tip as in a restaurant; if not, no tip and no guilt.
     
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  18. May 25, 2019 #18

    Devil's Advocate

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    In a restaurant I can choose from a larger selection and make changes to my meal. I can replace one thing with another. I can ask for more of this or that or to leave something else out. I can ask them to cook it differently. I can ask them to make something stronger or weaker. I can even ask them to bring things out in a specific order. Without my tip they'd make even less than minimum wage. On Amtrak none of that is applicable. Everything is regimented, you can't change anything relevant in a meaningful way, and Amtrak service staff probably enjoy a higher income or better benefits than most of their working class customers. If you routinely tip your boss at work then you should probably tip your Amtrak server as well since it's roughly the same screwy logic. These days I tip on Amtrak the same way I tip on a long haul flight since that seems to be the closest analogy to the modern experience.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2019
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  19. May 25, 2019 #19

    anumberone

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    While on a train I don't tip the way I would tip my boss at work, but I certainly take the senior discount
     
  20. May 25, 2019 #20

    Bradenmeridian

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    Glad we're on this topic, because I want to know why the cafe car is always running out of food on the NEC. Yesterday I boarded in Norfolk VA on a not very full train and before we even reached Alexandria they were out of the lunch entree I wanted. And this train is going to Boston! What are they feeding everyone else later? Two weeks ago my train was delayed in Old Saybrook for an hour and there was no food, literally no food left. I had to wonder if it makes extra work for the cafe car attendant at the end of the trip if there's any food left - returning of inventory or something - so that they stock the bare minimum, hoping to run out of everything by the end. Anyone know about their motivations on this subject?
     
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  21. May 25, 2019 #21

    zepherdude

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    No food in the cafe car is prepped onboard It is all brought in from elsewhere prepackaged. All one can do is estimate usage according to space available. Lots of factors determine usage and all the agents can do is try to load proper amounts based on history.
     
  22. May 26, 2019 #22

    zephyr17

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    Note that all commissary functions are outsourced.
     
  23. May 26, 2019 #23

    junebug

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    About wine: I forgot to tell you. I pick up a couple of those 4 packs of those little bottles of wine like they sell at dinner. They're plastic bottles, so I just pack them in my suitcase.
     
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  24. May 26, 2019 #24

    RichieRich

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    I pack just a bit more to eat & drink on-board.
     
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  25. May 26, 2019 #25

    TheTuck

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    Not sure about specific regulations, but I'm pretty sure those microwaves at AMPM are not for personal use, they're for heating food purchased in store. Maybe there are separate microwaves for personal use, which would never be used for heating purchased food. This could be implemented at Amtrak, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
     

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