A La Carte cashiers

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Richard Coplen

Hey all,
i've always wondered what exactly the 2 female cashiers in the a la carte restaurant did. Did they sit behind tills and take in the money for the bills? It seems like a very modern concept - like in a McDonalds restaurant or something. What sort of uniform would they have worn? Was food served to passengers from a trolley or cart as the restaurant name suggests or was it buffet style? Just a thought - appreciate any suggestions!

Camron Miller

I think that the name "a la carte" means "from the card" - i.e: diners chose whatever they wanted from a menu that was less restricted (albeit more expensive) than the one in the dining saloon. But don't quote me on this - it's been a while since I actually spent more than a few hours in France.
A good question about the cashiers. I can't really add further to this. The meals were ordered form a menu and served directly to the tables by waiters. Perhaps they did use trolleys or trays to bring food out. I know in the dining saloon they had special trolleys in a few locations that held soup (which was kept hot) and these were used to serve soup to passengers (so as to not bring out individual plates).
I always assumed that the cashiers of the restaurant were, in fact, the Gilded Age equivalent of a Burger King cashier. Since they're referred to as "cashiers" then their duties must have been something similar to what we see today.

I'd just venture to guess that they totalled up the cost of the meal and kept a record of it. I base this on a theory I heard somewhere that diners didn't pay for meals in the restaurant right away, but rather were given one bill containing the total cost of all the meals they had eaten there at the end of the voyage. Has anyone else heard this?
Finally Ive been waiting to ask a QUESTION! How come there were so many people employed with the restaurant?!?! It wasnt even that big! Were all of them just behind closed doors cooking or changing shifts?


I do not know about 1912; but on the cruise I went on this year, one does not pay at the time of any transaction. Yes, a ring up and a reciept one signs, then the tally is presented at point of destination (the last day/evening) before disembarking. Can you say "shock"!

Since the Saloon meals were included in the passage fare, the A la Carte was an extra expence (I heard there was a reimbursment for skipped Saloon meals if one ate at the resturaunt); and the nature of the resturaunt was a "pick-and-choose" affair,; so I imagine the cashiers' duties was sort of a bookeeping/billing type. Just a thought- maybe one of their duties was reservations? The Saloon had assigned seats, but the resturaunt had to contend with passenger's whim. And seating: being lead to the table...but the Maitre'd would probably have done that.

Of course, it could very well have been a cash situation...since they were known as "cashiers" it would make sense. I have always been intrigued by these two, not much seems to be known about them or their counterparts of this time. I guess they were members of the "invisible" ones on board.

Can I take your order?

John Meeks

I may be wrong, but it's quite simple really...

I remember going to restaurants and tea rooms back in the 'fifties, where 'cashiers' were often the order of the day.

You had your meal, the waitress presented a bill, you paid her in cash (no credit cards then) and then, the waitress would cross the restaurant to present the bill and payment to the cashier - usually a rather stern lady resembling a concierge having a bad day. The waitress would then returned with your receipt and, as you left - if you were behaving too furtively - the cashier might ask to see your receipt.

This would ensure that everyone was paying and the waitress wasn't 'fiddling' anybody.

Of course, you tipped the waitress - but just stared at the cashier on your way out. No wonder they looked stern....!


John M

Life on Titanic I guess was similar to staying at a hotel today. You don't pay up front, it all comes in a final bill when you're checking out.

Same for the restaurant, the passengers who ate there had a "Restaurant account", the bill for which was issued at the very end of the voyage.

Depending on ticket cost, a passenger received between £3 to £5 pounds refund from their cabin fare if they declared they were going to take all their meals in the restaurant.

If we consider that about 3 to 5 pounds covered dinner for the entire voyage for a person dining on D deck, that type of refund at the cheapest Restaurant prices would only cover 5 meals at the most ... and if your taste buds preferred something more expensive, 3 pounds would probably cover only a day's worth of meals.

Passengers probably ate about 20 meals per voyage, in that case the amount of money you'd spent in the Restaurant for all the meals could afford you a 2nd class ticket! So dining in the restaurant was no cheap affair!

Per voyage, I guess there could have been as many as 100 passengers or even more who dined in the Restaurant. The Restaurant did very well on Olympic's 1st round trip.


Sahind, you'll find all the duties of the restaurant staff listed with their names on the crew list on this site. Remember, this was a swanky establishment. They weren't making hamburgers and using paper plates and plastic knives. I'm sure Signor Gatti employed just enough staff to do the work and no more.
Wouldnt the Saloon be somewhat empty since it seated 500 and there was what I believe to be over 300 first class passengers and some of them went to the restaurant or Parisian. It makes me a little mad that the Titanic wasnt filled up to capacity, not for the disaster, but making it more celebrating. Does anyone know if newer cruise lines have about 1000 more people room aboard left?
Good thinking! The dining saloon would have been half empty. That's something for the movie makers to remember.

Modern cruise ships carry huge numbers, especially when going on cheap and cheerful short cruises. Check out a few cruise ship web sites, of which there are many.
with all the people not onboard makes it seem kind of dull.
o well!

Titanic would have been even less underfilled if there was no coal strike. However we can't really expect much from the numbers, it was just the season. Olympic which left for New York the week before Titanic's maiden departure had the exact same number of 1st class passengers, 324!

I know that R. Artagaveytia remarked that some of the dining saloon was empty, so this definitely did not go unnoticed by the passengers.


Adam Lang

Just a quick question about the A'la Carte Cafe. Did they have any tables for 2 there? The decks show only tables of 4, but as they are only deckplans, they probably don't have completely accurate seating charts. Any ideas?

-Adam Lang

The deck plans I am looking in the Shipbuilder, those by Bruce Beveridge and the plans given out onboard [the Father Browne deck plans] all show tables for 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6. - Whose deck plans are you looking at?
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