Still Nibbling Away at Food Service.

ABOARD TRAIN #2 — I must say that the meals on the Sunset Limited, at least on this particular train, have been very good. Furthermore, the dining car crew is outstanding. The two servers, in particular, are not only efficient in the job itself, but genuinely friendly, engaging the passengers and clearly enjoying the repartee.
But just a moment! I learned last night that ice cream is no longer a dessert option. The LSA in charge of the dining car thinks it’s a permanent decision and is distressed because, she says, it’s been the most popular dessert. It is certainly my personal favorite. She also says neither warning nor rationale was given. (And, by the way, once again there is no French Toast on the breakfast menu.)
It certainly would appear that the nickel-and-diming in the food service on Amtrak’s long-distance trains is continuing–the gradual disappearance of the Sunset Limited’s most popular dessert being the latest example.
Over the past couple of years, we have gone from what I would estimate to be a six ounce cup of Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream to a four-ounce cup and then from Haagen-Dazs to the Blue Bunny brand. Now, it would seem, there is no ice cream at all.
Five years ago, one of the dessert options in Amtrak dining cars was a wedge of cheesecake with a generous dollop of strawberry sauce on top. Today, if it’s on the menu at all, the cheesecake comes in a small plastic cup.
Let us hope that the new Amtrak leadership will start standing up to the ideologues in Congress, most especially the self-serving publicity hounds like John Mica. (He has been describing Amtrak as “America’s soviet-style railroad” for the better part of 20 years . . . and still thinks it’s funny.)
Presumably in an effort to appease Mica and others in Congress, Amtrak’s former CEO, Joe Boardman, assured them that the railroad’s food and beverage service would break even within five years. Clearly, they are hoping to achieve that goal by more and more cuts, nibbling away at the quality and the variety of dishes being offered in dining cars, and doing so without a detrimental effect on ridership and revenue.
Good luck with that.