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A visit to the first class restaurant on the Queen Mary today - Long Beach's "Grand Salon".


Of the three passenger dining rooms that were originally on the Queen Mary only the First Class Restaurant survives in a readily recognizable form.  Located on "R" deck, it was renamed the Grand Salon in Long Beach.  It has served as a multi-purpose banqueting/meeting room ever since the ship opened in Long Beach in the early 1970's.  The Sunday brunch is held here  each week from 9:30a.m. to 2:00 p.m. giving guests a  glimpse of what this room looked like in its heyday.  

                 
One of a pair of original entrances to the First Class Restaurant.  These doors now serve as one of the two entrances to the Windsor Room that was carved out of the forward third of the dining room. 

The original entrances to the first class restaurant/dining room were lined up with the elevators, so passengers alighting from the elevators would be greeted by the sight of a grand entrance and a uniformed bellboy, (just like on the Titanic), who would open the door for  them.

                 
The inside of an entrance looking forward towards one of two pairs of elevators.  This circa 1948 photo give us an idea of the the area looked like while the Queen Mary was in service. The metal and glass doors were removed in Long Beach and replaced by the wooden doors we see in the photograph of the area today above. 


                              
              Bellboys lined up outside the first class dining room for morning inspection circa 1950. 


Nothings speaks to the contrast between the great ocean liner and the declasse operation of Long Beach's Queen Mary than the difference between the original grand entrances serviced by bellboys and the inconspicuous entrance used to this grand room today.


          
                           The current entrance to The Grand Salon.  

              
                                     The Sunday Brunch sign in desk.

The entry used to Long Beach's Grand Salon is located right at the portside entrance of the ship.  This entrance is so inconspicuous that many Sunday Brunch patrons walk right past it and into the middle of the "R" deck foyer and inquire of the ship's photographer where the brunch is to be found. The area just inside the present day entrance to the Grand Salon is used as a check in area for brunch patrons.

      
(left) The ATM machine. (right)  The photographer's set up where the bellboys were inspected in the 1950 photo above. 

Meanwhile the sweeping "R" deck foyer sits largely empty and unused.  It  houses an ATM machine and the ship's photographer who sets up a green screen in a corner on Sunday morning to take pictures of brunch and hotel guests for a modest fee.

                   
The "R" deck crosswalk spce minus the photographer's set up.  The curved entrance leads to the former first class swimming pool, now used as a "haunted" feature on the "Ghost and Legends" show.

                     
A buffet station in the middle of the room in front of a concept of the English countryside painted in a tapestry effect by Philip Connard, R.A.. 

Walter and Donald Gilbert's bronze and silver grill doors that served as the captain's entrance are hidden by the flowers in this photograph.  The matching doors to the private dining rooms have all been removed as have the private dining rooms.    

                       
                                           Two views of the room in 1936.

From the RMS Queen Mary website we learn that  "....served buffet-style, our Champagne Sunday Brunch offers food from around the globe with more than 50 world-class entrees. Culinary stations include a Carving and Entree Station - with a selection of cooked meats, an Asian Station - with stir-fry, a Pasta Station - with a selection of gourmet pastas and sauces, an authentic Mexican Station - featuring foods from south of the border and a Dessert Station - with such delectables as chocolate covered strawberries. Additional selections include breakfast favorites, a salad bar, and fresh seafood. There is even a special buffet island just for children."

                       

                  

  
 

                      
Decorative panel on a silver ground in the restaurant by A. Duncan Carse. These panels cover the inboard case of the large ventilator trunks and depict American and English birds.  

Recent work ...

                                          

                 
A view of the recently installed moveable partition (closed above) that separates the Windsor Room, from the main portion of the restaurant. 

The fixed partition was removed in 2008. The second funnel casing ran through this portion of the dining room with a mirrored buffet fronting it while the ship was in service.  MacDonald Gill's magnificent decorative map of the North Atlantic still hangs in the upper portions of the restaurant above the this area of the room.

                      
The design board for the renovation of the former first class dining room as proposed by J/Brice Design in 2009.               

   
          Recently installed light fixtures in the Windsor Room portion of the restaurant.

                         
                            The recently installed Axminster carpeting.

Areas and features awaiting attention ...

                         

Note the damage to the lower portion of the (above) painting. This is the cumulative result of setting up service stations up against the unprotected painting(s) by the catering staff and/or possibly over zealous and under supervised polishing of the metalwork beneath it. (This type of damage can be seen in many places on the ship.) These paintings were restored by the Wrather Port Properties in the 1980's but this photograph shows that they need attention now.


   
Note the derelict diffusers panels in the windows.  The portholes are routinely left open to the sea air and the elements. 

  
               
                               Missing glass in lighting fixtures throughout the room...

A closer look at the lighting fixture above the porthole at the right of the photo above indicates that the etched glass diffuser is missing.  A careful look around the room shows that this is not an isolated example.  These glass pieces are broken when maintenance staff replace light bulbs and also when exhibitors set up their backdrops for tradeshows.  Disney created molds and had all the missing glass pieces recreated including the Lalique-like panels on the dome.  My understanding is that they created extra pieces for the eventuality of future breakage.  Perhaps there are still extras in storage.  And perhaps their glass making contractor still has the molds.
  
For a more comprehensive look at the the design, art and history of this important room as well as our thoughts about possibilities for restoration, please see the article from the Alternative Visions website at:

http://www.sterling.rmplc.co.uk/visions/retain4.html

The continued "multiple choice" use of this room and of the other major public rooms that survive is a major culprit in the damage being done to them. This flexibility in use is the cardinal principle of the catering sales department and has been ever since the ship opened in Long Beach. They will tell you that "it is the only way the Queen Mary can earn her keep".

I question this statement. But to get management to seriously consider how and why this should change would require a revolution in their thinking regarding the operation of the ship and how best to make a profit. Is it really optimizing profits when rooms are dark and empty most of the time and set up occasionally for whatever purpose that comes along? Consider how banquets worked, and their frequency, on the QE2 when it was stationed off of Japan in the late 1980's. Or how and where weddings were conducted on the QE2 when stationed off Japan -- and how many! 
                                 

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