Schenectady County

Food truck owners conduct poll on use of ‘dago’ in name

Is “Wandering Dago” an offensive name for a food truck? That’s the question the truck’s co-owners, A

Is “Wandering Dago” an offensive name for a food truck?

That’s the question the truck’s co-owners, Andrea Loguidice and Brandon Snooks, are posing with a poll on their Facebook page, where people can weigh in on whether the name should be changed. The name has become a popular topic of conversation after the truck was ousted from the Saratoga Race Course last Friday. New York Racing Association spokesman Eric Wing has said the ouster followed complaints about the name.

Snooks said the poll is a way of hearing from a large audience about how they feel. “We’re letting democracy decide,” he said, quickly adding that the results aren’t binding in any way.

At this point, though, he said the poll results overwhelmingly say he shouldn’t change the name. He plans on revealing the final results in a few days.

Comments on the poll vary, with some giving impassioned opinions on both sides of the issue and the rest just saying they enjoy the food.

The Daily Gazette put up a poll on its website, asking people whether it was right for NYRA to kick out the Wandering Dago. By Thursday afternoon, more than 400 votes had been tallied, with more than 80 percent responding that NYRA was wrong.

Hubbub over the name has reached across the ocean, with an article about the food truck’s expulsion from the track appearing in London’s The Daily Mail earlier this week. Snooks said he isn’t surprised, saying, “We’ve had people call us from all over the country.”

While previous instances haven’t created such a ruckus, the name of the food truck has caused them problems in the past, like when they were denied a food vendor license at the Empire State Plaza, which is run by the state’s Office of General Services. Because of a recent NYRA agreement, OGS also is overseeing the Saratoga Race Course, but Snooks didn’t want to speculate on a possible connection.

Asked whether OGS was involved with vendors at the Saratoga Race Course, spokesman Heather Groll responded in an email: “NEVER.”

Wing said he was not familiar with concerns from anyone other than people at the track.

Snooks said he never anticipated the name would cause them to lose business, as the name was chosen only after a search of corporations registered with the state showed four other corporations had the phrase “dago” in the name. He was aware the name would possibly cause controversy, but said, “We didn’t set out to make anybody unhappy and we’re not breaking any laws.”

The expulsion could lead to a legal battle, which Snooks said he is trying to avoid. He said the contract with Centerplate, a contractor hired by NYRA to oversee food at the track, requires they get 30 days’ notice before being forced to leave. They were notified on opening day that they had to get out.

“The last thing we want to do is sue the racetrack. We love the racetrack,” Snooks said.

A local Centerplate official did not respond to a request for an interview.

Since leaving the racetrack, the Wandering Dago has been searching for other business to offset the summer’s lost revenue. Snooks said it will be impossible to completely recoup the possible revenue from the track, but said they have booked a few events.

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