Rolling restaurants fire up their grills in Saratoga Springs
SARATOGA SPRINGS The smell of bacon on the fryer filled the summer air, while music from a live band muffled the sound of people scarfing down burgers and children laughing as they ran around in an open field.
The sun began to set behind the towering pine trees as dozens of people gathered Tuesday at the Saratoga Eagles Club for the Capital Region Food Truck Rodeo. Seven local food trucks, making everything from pizza to eggs, cooked their way into the hearts and stomachs of those who came.
Two of those food trucks, Gwenies Breakfast Wagon from Schenectady and Slidin’ Dirty from Troy, seemingly rolled right off of the set of “LIVE with Kelly and Michael.” Both were top 10 finalists in the syndicated TV show’s Truckin’ Amazing Cook-Off competition. On Monday, the two trucks found out live on the show they did not advance to the final four, but their spirits were high and their lines long Tuesday.
Lou Grevely, who along with his wife, Gwen, owns Gwenies Breakfast Wagon, said he thinks the food truck sensation is just beginning locally.
“I think to bring awareness to the food culture in the area is important,” he said.
The operators of Kona-Ice, a new food truck that serves shaved ice with dozens of flavorings, agreed. They organized the rodeo.
“My dad got the truck, and he met a lot of the other food trucks,” said Alaina Greco, daughter of the owner of Kona-Ice. “We asked the other trucks if they wanted to do it, and they were all on board.”
The cold treats Kona-Ice serves are a favorite among kids. The flavors line the base of the truck and are accessed by pulling down a lever.
“They love the flavor wave,” Greco said.
The Wandering Dago is a food truck that has also been in the headlines recently. The truck was kicked out of Saratoga Race Course unexpectedly last week because of its name, which is considered offensive by some Italian-Americans. But Tuesday, the line outside the truck was a few dozen deep and its tip jar was overflowing. Many of those at the event said they decided to come Tuesday specifically to support the Wandering Dago.
“[I’m] here supporting the Wandering Dago. That is what Saratoga should do. We owe them that much,” said Michele Kressner, of Saratoga. “They had a contract, and Saratoga backed out on it.”
Kressner and her family munched on their Home Wrecker sandwiches while sitting at a picnic table under the pavilion, listening to a live band.
“Excellent,” Kressner said, pointing to the sandwich. “Well worth finding again.”
The owners of the Wandering Dago announced Monday night via Facebook the results of their poll on whether they should change the truck’s name.
“The Results are in — 62% of the people believe we should NOT change the name,” the post read. “Thanks to everyone that took a minute to vote and leave comments. We will take this poll into consideration when making our final decision.”
Joel Roberts, of Saratoga, was among those who would like to see the Wandering Dago continue to use its name and make its food. He said he and his wife enjoyed the American Idiot sandwich.
“We went with the Wandering Dago because they got booted out of the track because of their name,” he said. “That’s what I actually even told her: ‘That’s why we bought from you, because for that name you got kicked out of the track.’ ”
This will not be the last rodeo for the seven food trucks, which also included Eat Good Food, Pies on Wheels and Fitzy’s Fork In The Road: The same event will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Eagles Club. Admission to the rodeo and parking is free. Live music and a beer and wine pavilion are among the other attractions.
Grevely said the food truck culture is huge in other parts of the country.
“We are a little behind the times up here,” he said.
When Gwenies was invited to the rodeo, Grevely said they were thrilled to not only build their following, but also support the local food truck industry.
“It is a camaraderie,” he said. “And once that builds and expands, I think that it is going to explode.”