New dining options (flex dining) effective October 1

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by SanDiegan, Jul 13, 2019.

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

  1. Aug 8, 2019 #401

    seat38a

    s

    seat38a

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,025
    Location:
    Orange County California
    Recent pictures I've seen shows its definitely a downgrade. Not sure if its the caterer they chose, but it does not look as good as it used to. You can see it here: https://liveandletsfly.boardingarea.com/2018/10/13/amtrak-empire-builder-bedroom-review/

    Based on the pictures Matthew posted, the caterer has changed.

    April pictures form The Points Guy
    https://thepointsguy.com/reviews/amtrak-superliner-roomette-empire-builder/
     
    dogbert617 likes this.
  2. Aug 8, 2019 #402

    Rasputin

    R

    Rasputin

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2019
    Messages:
    492
    I understand that the Big Sky chicken dinners which for years were being loaded onto the Empire Builder at Havre and sold in the café car ($10 as I recall) are no longer being offered. They were quite good and adequate. I bought one the next morning before arrival in Portland to have for lunch because I did not realize that sleeping car passengers on the Coast Starlight boarding in Portland are entitled to lunch on the train (which they are).
     
  3. Aug 8, 2019 #403

    jiml

    jiml

    jiml

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2019
    Messages:
    468
    Location:
    Toronto area
    Mmmm, pretzel bun. Thought AA were the only ones with those in FC.
     
    jis likes this.
  4. Aug 8, 2019 #404

    jiml

    jiml

    jiml

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2019
    Messages:
    468
    Location:
    Toronto area
    The other loophole on United is flying to Canada. Even a 1 hour flight from Chicago to Toronto in FC gets you lounge access, and the Chicago lounge has Giordano's at dinnertime.:) Unfortunately my carrier of choice (AA) considers that route domestic and makes lounge exceptions only for routes similar to the ones you've listed. I used to have their club membership, but don't fly often enough now to make it worthwhile.
     
  5. Aug 8, 2019 #405

    JoeBas

    JoeBas

    JoeBas

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2011
    Messages:
    1,036
    Heck, last time they rolled this out bait-and-switch-style they insisted on enforcing their new cancellation rules BEFORE travel, let alone after...
     
  6. Aug 8, 2019 #406

    seat38a

    s

    seat38a

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,025
    Location:
    Orange County California
    As I understood it, it wasn't a year round thing. Not sure if they axed it completely.
     
  7. Aug 8, 2019 #407

    Rasputin

    R

    Rasputin

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2019
    Messages:
    492
    I had the Big Sky chicken dinner in May on a trip on 27 about 5 years ago. I saw some posts a while back that the service was gone. I guess someone who has travelled on the Builder this summer can confirm this or not. It was a helpful and convenient service so it probably is gone.
     
  8. Aug 8, 2019 #408

    crescent-zephyr

    c

    crescent-zephyr

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2015
    Messages:
    1,948
    The Big Sky Chicken dinners were the type of thing that should be on all the multi-day long distance trains. They were loaded at a service stop, sold by the lounge car LSA, and gave coach passengers an affordable full meal from a local restaurant.
     
    tricia and Devil's Advocate like this.
  9. Aug 8, 2019 #409

    Amtrakfflyer

    A

    Amtrakfflyer

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2005
    Messages:
    364
    The chicken dinners or something similar are another simple solution to the contemporary dining disaster and probably the most cost effective for Amtrak and passengers alike.

    We can harp, hope and moan all we like but the current Administrations (US and Amtrak’s) aren’t going to implement anything to foster the network or long distance ridership.

    Maintaining the network until a honest competent leadership team is in place is the best we can ask/fight for at this point.
     
    Rasputin likes this.
  10. Aug 8, 2019 #410

    Mystic River Dragon

    M

    Mystic River Dragon

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2014
    Messages:
    2,651
    Isn't this the problem now? That no decent and knowledgeable railroad person wants anything to do with what Amtrak has become? So you get a lot of anti-rail (or at least anti-rail for anyone except the NEC) people running it?
     
    crescent2 and OBS like this.
  11. Aug 8, 2019 #411

    dogbert617

    dogbert617

    dogbert617

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2016
    Messages:
    761
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I rode Empire Builder 7/27 and 8/28 in both directions back in July, and sadly I can confirm those are no longer sold on the EB. Honestly if one is in coach and is desperate for food not from the cafe car or dining car, your best hope would be to find food somewhere near either the Whitefish Amtrak stop(IF you rode that far west, once heard a report of someone SOMEHOW running to Great Northern Brewing to get a drink there, then somehow making it back in time before the train departed. I'd ONLY be open to trying that, IF 7/27 was early into Whitefish), Havre(I saw a bar and casino with food, PJ's, was across the street from the Havre station), or Minot. For the latter(Minot), I know there's a coffee truck and food stand(out of a truck) called Daily Buzz that's open from Monday-Saturday(thanks to 3 people on google maps who confirmed this, when I asked a question about the days they were open on their google maps review page), that westbound 7/27 train travelers(Daily Buzz btw is closed when eastbound 8/28 arrives into Minot) could easily walk to during that extended station stop. There's also the option to see in Minot if you could call a nearby restaurant(i.e. the fact I saw a Thai restaurant in downtown Minot, along with a pizza place just north of the bridge of the road that has an overpass just to the east of the Minot station), and see if either place would deliver to the Minot station house while 8/28 does its station stop there.

    Also I'll note for Havre, there are a few vending machines inside that station house on a side wall within the waiting room area. Shelby, MT also had a few, as well. I didn't ride all the way west to Whitefish(only to West Glacier), so can't report on the status of that station. I wish the EB still sold those Big Sky chicken dinners, though! Was this sold out of the cafe car, on the lower level of the Sightseer Lounge?

    Ah, so that's what those sometimes talked about Big Sky chicken dinners were like! Thanks for posting these 2 images. I see with the HAV sticker on them, that they had to have been from some local place out of Havre. Too bad those are no longer offered on the EB, if they were sold at least as late as 2015(per those 2 pics over on flickr). Sigh!
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019
    crescent-zephyr likes this.
  12. Aug 8, 2019 #412

    Qapla

    Qapla

    Qapla

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2019
    Messages:
    484
    Location:
    Gator Country Florida
    They should have hired me :cool: I would have worked for less that they are currently paying and made much better decisions
     
  13. Aug 8, 2019 #413

    Rasputin

    R

    Rasputin

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2019
    Messages:
    492
    Yes, you bought them from the café attendant in the lounge car who had made an announcement that they were available.
     
    dogbert617 likes this.
  14. Aug 8, 2019 #414

    dogbert617

    dogbert617

    dogbert617

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2016
    Messages:
    761
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Thanks for responding, and confirmed that this was indeed the case. I wonder why this was discontinued? It seems like this'd be a cost effective solution for Amtrak to sell these Big Sky chicken boxes, considering the (sigh) stupid mandate by Congress and the Senate for Amtrak to reduce dining and food service costs on long distance trains. Why can this not STILL be sold, on the EB? ESPECIALLY for those in coach, who want an alternative to the food sold in the dining car and (moreso, where food on the latter is less interesting) the cafe car? I love the fact that the EB did serve those boxed chicken dinners till sometime in the last few years, myself.

    It looks like for Havre, maybe one could CALL IN a food order to go from PJ's Bar and Casino just before arriving in Havre, and during that station stop, run inside to there and pick up and pay for their food to go from PJ's during that station stop. The menu for that place(thanks google maps, and pics posted on its review page) seemed like it'd be serviceable, for EB passengers if they wanted to pick up a to go food order during the 20 minute layover there. After all PJ's is just across the street from the Havre station, so to me it'd seem like a workable idea to do for coach passengers(call in an order there before the train arrived in Havre), and providing the food was ready once you got inside PJ's to pick up your food and pay to go, still allow those coach passengers to get back to the train in time before it departed.
     
  15. Aug 8, 2019 #415

    crescent-zephyr

    c

    crescent-zephyr

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2015
    Messages:
    1,948
    anyone use Uber eats to a station yet?
     
    dogbert617 likes this.
  16. Aug 8, 2019 #416

    dogbert617

    dogbert617

    dogbert617

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2016
    Messages:
    761
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I should try that out, myself. I wonder which places would allow food to be delivered to an Amtrak station with an extended layover for a little bit of time(preferably 15 to 20 minutes or more), were I to try that? And say, that might be interesting to try in say like Minot, ND, Denver, CO, Albuquerque, NM, El Paso, TX, Tucson, AZ, or any other station on a long distance route with a long enough layover.
     
  17. Aug 9, 2019 #417

    OlympianHiawatha

    O

    OlympianHiawatha

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2008
    Messages:
    4,256
    Location:
    Norman, OK
    When I was Eastbound several years ago and the announcement came from the lounge, you could hear the doors flying open in our Sleeper until Stephanie, our attendant, came on the car 1MC and reminded us those are for Coach pax and we get our chow included with our fare.
     
  18. Aug 10, 2019 #418

    Charles785

    C

    Charles785

    Train Attendant

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2017
    Messages:
    70
    Maybe I missed it, but does anyone know the Havre source of the Big Sky chicken dinners. (I'm sure I'm not the first to think of this but if we knew who prepared the meals, maybe passengers could arranged to call ahead, and arrange for delivery to the Amtrak station.)
     
    basketmaker likes this.
  19. Aug 10, 2019 #419

    seat38a

    s

    seat38a

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,025
    Location:
    Orange County California
    At one point, the rumor was Montana State Prison. But when I asked the LSA in the cafe, she said absolutely not. She just said a restaurant in town. :D
     
  20. Aug 10, 2019 #420

    Rasputin

    R

    Rasputin

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2019
    Messages:
    492
    The Big Sky Chicken dinners sold in the Empire Builder café were made by Boxcars Restaurant in Havre, Montana. I understand that service was discontinued in 2017.

    I understand that Boxcars also made the breakfast meals that were served on the Portland section of the Empire Builder. They were also loaded onto the westbound train at Havre. I don't know if they still prepare these.

    https://www.havredailynews.com/stor...-owner-boxcars-restaurant-and-bar/524810.html
     
  21. Aug 10, 2019 #421

    Qapla

    Qapla

    Qapla

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2019
    Messages:
    484
    Location:
    Gator Country Florida
    According to the article in that link: (This excerpt has been edited for clarity and to fit into this space)

    "Anthony and Ashley Windyboy [bought] Boxcars in April 2018 ... The restaurant hadn't been in operation for a few years. Windyboy said they had to clean it up and get everything working

    They started with a limited daily lunch menu and have added to it over the past year. 'There was only, I wanna say, seven or eight items when I first started because I wanted to get comfortable and see what I could do,' Windyboy said. 'I wanted to make it fast because I know people only have an hour for lunch.'

    Their daily menu still is fairly simple with an assortment of burgers, sandwiches, salads, chicken and a kids' menu along with a handful of appetizers."
     
  22. Aug 10, 2019 #422

    Rasputin

    R

    Rasputin

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2019
    Messages:
    492
    Thanks for pointing out my error. I bought one of the chicken dinners when I was on 7/27 in 2015. I also went through Havre on 7/27 in 2016 but I can't recall if they were still being offered then. A friend from Havre later told me that they were prepared by Boxcars restaurant and that they were discontinued in 2017. Perhaps he was mistaken and they were discontinued earlier.
     
  23. Aug 11, 2019 #423

    me_little_me

    m

    me_little_me

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2010
    Messages:
    2,880
    The question has been asked in this forum about whether there has been any official notice from Amtrak other than the reported NRPA announcement. Penny, has there been?
     
  24. Aug 11, 2019 #424

    pennyk

    pennyk

    pennyk

    Conductor Staff Member Administator Moderator Gathering Team Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2009
    Messages:
    9,458
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    I have personally heard from several Silver Meteor crews, from an RPA employee, from an Amtrak management employee in Wilmington, and from a manager in Miami, but I have not seen an official alert from Amtrak. However, I am not actively looking for an official notice. I am convinced this change will occur.
     
    jis and Bob Dylan like this.
  25. Aug 11, 2019 #425

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

    Conductor

    Joined:
    May 31, 2009
    Messages:
    18,523
    Location:
    Austin Texas
    "If it walks like a Duck,and quacks like a Duck, it's a Duck!"

    Remember, the current Gaggle of Flight Suits running Amtrak are known for Springing surprises on the Staff and Customers!( see the PPCs,the Ocean View,the National LD Menu,the Vanishing Chefs on Several Routes and the RIFs of OBS).
     
    Rasputin likes this.

Share This Page



arrow_white