SCHENECTADY Wandering Dago’s name hasn’t changed but its business plan has.
The controversial red, white and blue food truck is no longer peddling truck-made specialties on Capital Region streets and it’s rarely seen at festivals. Instead, it’s making the rounds at fancier affairs.
“There is a pretty big interest in food truck weddings, so that’s kind of where we started marketing and it really, really took off. It’s just been a total shift for our business,” explained Brandon Snooks, who owns the company with Andrea Loguidice.
Their food truck began selling gourmet sandwiches, soups and salads in 2012 and soon drew the ire of local Italian-Americans because of its name, which some consider an ethnic slur.
Loguidice and Snooks were denied a food vendor license at the Empire State Plaza in May 2013, then told to remove their truck from Saratoga Race Course at the beginning of the summer 2013 meet due to complaints about the name.
Last August, they filed a lawsuit against state officials over their ouster.
The litigation has yet to be resolved, but in the meantime, business is booming, according to Snooks.
Working with a clientele based heavily in the Hudson Valley, Wandering Dago is now a hybrid service that offers traditional, sit-down catering as well as the line-up-and-place-your-order-at-the-truck variety. The business now serves beer and wine and is looking into getting a full liquor license. The menu, originally heavy on barbecued foods, has evolved to include lighter, healthier fare. Vegetarian and vegan dishes are now offered.
Business is so good, the owners are considering investing in a second food truck.
Loguidice and Snooks still live in Schenectady, and Snooks said there will always be a place in his heart for the town where their business began, but the couple won’t sell food there due to the fracas over their company’s name.
Snooks said their truck has received a warm welcome in other areas.
“People love our name. We could have booked 100 weddings this year if we had the time. People love it. Ironically, we just have to leave the Capital Region,” he said.
The couple are looking at spaces in the Hudson Valley to house their growing business.
“It’s way more us,” Snooks explained.
The buzz about the business’ controversial name has died down since the truck is no longer operating around town and there has been no court action on the lawsuit.
According to Mike Hawrylchak, an associate in the office of Boies, Schiller and Flexner, which represents Wandering Dago, a motion was filed May 23 to add four defendants to the case.
That motion is pending.
No matter what the outcome of the case, Snooks said he has no intention of changing the business name.
“We are a little bit rogue,” he conceded. “I’ve never really been someone that followed all the rules and fit in with everybody, and some of it is my personality. It’s not like I woke up one day and somebody said, ‘You know, you’re a little abrasive.’ I’ll be 40 in November. I’ve known that for about 37 years. The truck is me. It’s my personality, and some of me is really proud of that. Some of me wishes I could maybe just keep my mouth shut sometimes. This is who I am.”