The diner originally sat 48 patrons at four-seat tables, 32 in the main section and 16 in nooks at each end of the car. When full, though, this produced a very crowded car, so later the diners were reconfigured to seat only 24 in the main section, with alternating two- and four-seat tables. 

The decor featured gray-green, rose and ecru walls, rose leather chairs and a pale green carpet. The wall behind the Steward's podium featured a carved-linoleum mural by artist Pierre Bourdelle. Fresh carnations always adorned the tables, a touch that many patrons fondly remembered. 

What made the dining car famous across the land, however, was the food, deliciously prepared and elegantly presented, at a reasonable price. Each road contributed a regional specialty to the cuisine. The Rio Grande offered Colorado's famous mountain brook trout, and thanks to WP Dining Car Superintendent Harold G. Wyman's personal expertise on wines, a nice selection of California vintages were always on hand. For sleeping car passengers, room service was also available for a small charge. 

The staff normally consisted of four cooks, six waiters and the Steward. In the off-season, one cook and two waiters were dropped from the rotation. The crew schedule consisted of a round trip from the staffer's home city (San Francisco, Denver or Chicago), with an equal amount of time off.


1955 Note the change in table

1960 This is one of the nook tables.
The magic of the food occurred in the carefully designed kitchen, which included four separate refrigerators, propane burning stoves and a large pantry. A unique "air curtain" kept the kitchen odors out of the dining area. 

Dinner was, of course, the most popular meal in the car, and to serve everyone, there were a number of seatings, by reservation only. During the initial check-in before boarding at Chicago or San Francisco, passengers made reservations for their preferred seating tie with the Zephyrette, and received a little reminder card. Early on, sleeping car passengers could make their reservations by a special phone in the lounge-observation, but technical problems led to the decision that all reservations would be made personally with the Zephyrette. There were no reservations for breakfast or lunch. 

The first seating was the Chef's Early Dinner at 5 pm, and during peak seasons, there would be an additional one at 4:15 pm as well. This was an inexpensive limited-menu offering, geared towards families with young children. The first regular dinner was at 6 pm, with additional seatings at 7, 8 and again during peak, at 9 pm. 

Besides the standard (if such exceptional food could be called that) fare, for a while a five-course Italian dinner, complete with a bottle of red California wine, was offered for a mere $3.00.



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