Austrian hospitality

March 25, 2020

Roger Williams and 30 International Rail Catering Group members experience the services of Austrian rail operator OBB and its caterer, IRCG member DoN

Vienna’s modern Sudtiroler Platz Hauptbahnhof offers a warm and vibrant environment with around a dozen fast-food outlets and a question immediately arises – how does so much competition affect the revenue of on-train caterers DoN

The logistics is tucked away in the basement (typical of many railways) and reliant on lifts to platform level. However, DoN’s onboard crew office, featuring industry-leading digital management systems, is in a highly visible concourse position, boldly showing off its professional back-of-house operations in full view of the public – brave indeed!

Choice and service
Upstairs, OBB’s First Class lounge offers free wifi and has removed single-use plastic packaging. China crockery and proper glasses are used and snacks include fresh and dried fruits. We’re joining the 230kph Railjet train to Linz, with both Economy and First Class. A small cafe sits in between, manned by DoN’s smart, efficient staff dressed in bistro styling. First passengers can dine at their seats. DoN’s new Herbst Menu is printed in seven languages. The size of a small book, it includes vegan and free-from options. Seasonal Austrian specialities include creamy potato soup with mushrooms, vegetable goulash with herb-buckwheat and, of course, the traditional Wiener Schnitzel.
With soups, meals, kids meals, desserts & cheeses, it’s a large range for such a small galley, especially as everything is plated on china to avoid single-use plastic equipment. Earlier in the day, fresh bake, salmon breakfast and ‘active’ breakfast dishes are offered, along with uber-healthy muesli.

Innovative thinking
In Economy, using a battery-powered coffee machine on a trolley, strong espresso and long coffees are made from biodegradable paper pods rather than aluminium. Sandwiches are in recyclable card packaging and only paper cups are used. All part of the no-plastics, sustainable service philosophy.

An innovative hawker-tray is used when the train’s too full for the trolley, and a bottle rack for the round bistro trays ensures bottles don’t fall over – both low-cost inventions to make service more efficient. All in all, it is a great customer experience, giving those station outlets a real run for their money.