The popular Capital Region food truck Wandering Dago has gotten the boot from the Saratoga Race Course.
Co-owner Andrea Loguidice said they were told Friday evening they were not welcome for the rest of the meet.
New York Racing Association spokesman Eric Wing said they receive several complaints about the name of the truck, as “dago” has a history of being a derogatory term for Italians.
“This should have been handled before Friday, but once we received complaints, we took immediate action on behalf of our customers,” Wing said.
A press release Thursday announcing the lineup of food venders at the track had the Wandering Dago at the top of its list and billed it as “one of the country’s top barbecue fusion trucks.”
Loguidice was upset about the decision to oust them because of the name, which is a point of pride for her and co-owner Brandon Snooks. She said both are of Italian descent and the name is derived from Italian immigrants who asked to be paid on a daily basis after employers started to refuse payment at the end of the week.
“We get paid as the day goes,” she explained, “and that’s where we came up with the name.”
This was supposed to be a big summer for the Wandering Dago, as Loguidice said they hoped to use the additional revenue to open a second truck.
“This is the kind of event we were looking forward to all year,” she said.
Instead, they will miss out on the track revenue, as well as weddings, private parties, concerts and other special events they passed on to be at the track.
Wing noted Centerplate, which is hired by NYRA to oversee food sales at the track and has the contract with the Wandering Dago, agreed to reimburse food costs incurred in preparation for the meet.
Loguidice said the real villain is a state official who has a problem with the name. She maintains the call Friday night came from a NYRA official she wouldn’t name who said the decision was being pushed by a state official.
The Wandering Dago has had run-ins with the state before, as they were denied a food vender 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 Loguidice didn’t want to speculate on a possible connection. Instead, she hopes they can have a dialogue with the unnamed official to explain what the truck’s name means to her and Snooks.
Wing said he was not familiar with concerns from anyone other than people at the track.
In the end, the Wandering Dago never served any food at the track, as Loguidice said a late arriving propane tank kept them from serving food on opening day.