Titanic’s À la Carte Restaurant

Titanic’s À la Carte Restaurant was provided for first class passengers in addition to the main first class dining room. It was a novelty provided aboard the ship, and would likely have reflected an up-market hotel restaurant. Those wishing to eat within the restaurant would have had to have paid for each of their meals as an additional cost to the price they had already paid for their ticket to sail, the à la carte restaurant having been a luxury extra aboard, not covered within the cost of the ticket. It was open to passengers to dine in throughout the day between 8am and 11pm.

Located on B deck just aft of the aft grand staircase case, the B deck landing of which acted as its reception area, the à la carte restaurant extended from the port side of the ship to the Café Parisian on the starboard side, within space Titanic’s sister ship Olympic originally used as a promenade deck, and aboard Titanic was used as a café reflecting the outside seating area of a French café, operated by and on the same terms as the à la carte next door. Just forward of the dining area the restaurant had its own kitchen or galley as it is known as using ship terminology. Located behind the A la carte restaurant, but, of course, completely separated from it was the second class main staircase.

To manage the restaurant White Star Line appointed Luigi Gatti, an Italian born restaurateur with experience in running London restaurants.

A fairly large number of people were employed as staff members within the restaurant, 69 in total including Luigi Gatti. Notable for a British ship of the time, only a few of those working within the restaurant were British born, with the vast majority being born in Italy, with the second largest amount being born in France and most of the others having been born in Switzerland. Luigi Gatti is said have been responsible for the hiring of the restaurant staff.

Described as being within the Louis XVI period in design, the restaurant was adorned with French Walnut wood paneling on the walls, the floor was carpeted, while a decorative plastered ceiling hang above. The tables within the restaurant could seat from two to eight people with each having a crystal lamp with a rose-colored lamp shade. In the day the room benefited from natural day light entering the room from the windows located along the port side of the ship and from the windows on the starboard side of the room receiving sunlight via the Cafe Parisian.

As already mentioned, if choosing to dine in the à la carte restaurant passengers had to pay for it in addition to the price they had paid to travel on board, but if adult passengers chose before sailing at the time of buying their ticket to only dine in the à la carte restaurant and never to use the main dining room throughout the voyage, they could have £3 reduced off the price of their ticket or for higher priced tickets £5. Given the probable cost of dinning within the à la carte restaurant, it’s unlikely there would be any financial benefit in choosing the à la carte restaurant over the main dining room.

Titanic’s sister ship Olympic also had an à la carte restaurant but at this time did not include the café Parisian, which was added to Olympic while she was being refitted in an attempt to make her a safer ship after the Titanic disaster.

On the evening of 14th April 1912, the evening on which Titanic struck the iceberg, first class passengers George and Eleanor Widener held a dinner party in the à la carte in which Titanic’s captain, Edward Smith, was the guest of honor.

Related pages - Titanic Lookouts and Crow's Nest, All Titanic Pages

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