Columbia Star Dinner Train shakes up management

Monday, February 13, 2012 | 7:11 p.m. CST; updated 8:15 p.m. CST, Monday, February 13, 2012

COLUMBIA — There's a management shake-up at the Columbia Star Dinner Train.

Who's out: General Manager Greg Weber is out as of about one month ago, new General Manager David Tenny said. He declined to say the reason for the change. 

Also, Amando Garcia, car captain and manager, said he resigned about one week ago but would not discuss the details.

Who's in: Weber has been replaced by train bartender David Tenny, 27.

Train owner: Central States Rail Associates owns the train, and Mark Vaughn is president.

Why it matters:

  • The Dinner Train is a private business, but it operates on the city-owned COLT railroad and received a $45,000 grant from the Convention and Visitors Bureau Tourism Development Fund to bring the train to Columbia.
  • The Missourian reported $20,000 in city funds also went to improve the train's facilities. The dinner train leases office and warehouse space from the city at 6501 N. Browns Station Road.
  • City Council documents show that COLT made $12,500 in revenue between July and November 2011 from the Dinner Train.
  • The Dinner Train has been protested by the disability community because it received public funds but is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The train cars are antiques and exempt from ADA regulations, Deputy City Manager Tony St. Romaine said. Central States Rail Associates has verbally committed its intent to acquire a car that could be converted for wheelchair use, but the company wants to make sure the venture is a success before investing in a new train car, St. Romaine said.

Official reaction: St. Romaine, who has coordinated with Central States Rail Associates since the beginning, said he was not aware of the management changes and spoke to Weber and Vaughn about three to four weeks ago. St. Romaine said people come and go from companies all the time. "I'm not quite sure why I would be concerned" about the personnel changes, he said.

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Mike Martin February 13, 2012 | 9:17 p.m.

Some recent background on this long-running saga:

DINNER TRAIN TRIP: Letter describes threats -- and a "bamboozled" city manager

DINNER TRAIN OWNER: "Still working on accessible rail car"

(Report Comment)
Harold Sutton February 13, 2012 | 9:48 p.m.

Well; here we go again!!!If there are enough individuals who are determined to shut down the dinner car train operation, then I think that they should make their move.

Reminds me of the yapping of small dogs who are in cars in shopping centers ; you know, the ones that start growling and threatening as you walk past.

I can't afford to go on the dinner train but I'm not going to make a issue of income based ticket prices.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 14, 2012 | 4:38 a.m.

I don't pretend to know the ins and outs of this particular operation, but in a very real sense a restaurant on wheels is no different than one that's stationary (le bleu, Cherry Street Wine Cellar & Bistro, Churchill's, Hemingway's' Wine & Bistro, etc.): in order to succeed you must have a fair amount of repeat business.

"Once and done" patrons are fine, but especially for the train version your business will decline after the initial enthusiasm wears off if you don't have diners coming back for more.

Actually, the restaurant business is a good example of market economics, something becoming more and more rare these days.

(Report Comment)
Harold Sutton February 14, 2012 | 9:11 a.m.

And just how do the changes that have occured translate into "Dinner train shakes up management!!"

The phrase "shakes up management" implies that there has been firing of people for reason. So if such has happened, then details should be reported.
Sounding a bit like checkout counter periodicals.

(Report Comment)

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