There's Always a Party in this Amtrak Cafe Car
It’s always a party on Herman’s café car along the Capitol Corridor. Blinking colored lights alert customers that hot coffee and good food are for sale. Flowers give the small, clean space a fresh feel. And Herman’s smile makes each meal a one-of-a-kind experience.
“Customers say it’s like going on vacation when they come in here,” says Herman, who’s been with Amtrak for 13 years and is known for his floor-to-ceiling-decorated café car, especially around the holidays.
The day we caught up with him, Herman had hung not one but five multi-colored party decorations around the car’s windows, off-set the condiments counter with a full vase of purple flowers and hung flashing signs both in the dining section and behind his counter.
As customers shuffle in and out of the festive car, Herman even calls them out by name to give the ride a more personal feel. For special trips, he also puts out puzzles on the tables for riders to wander in and complete throughout their journey.
Called “CC riders” for short, the Capitol Corridor commuters are on the train so regularly that they host their own holiday parties and have their own newsletter.
“CC riders rely on me to decorate for their holiday parties,” Herman says. “I always decorate the car for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I do all the decorations myself.”
District superintendent, Lou, says often passengers request Herman by name when they travel. “At one point customers thought he was leaving the route, and they were having a fit,” Lou says. “I was surprised they didn’t hire him personally.”
According to Lou, “He’s really something special.”
Which route has your favorite café car?