Come this summer, Andrea Loguidice and her boutique catering company will be roaming the scenic Hudson Valley, creating unique, alternative wedding events in fields and on farms and mountaintops.
But you won’t see the controversial name Wandering Dago anymore.
The Albany resident has rebranded and recharged her Schenectady-based business, which is now called Rogue Hospitality.
Last month, a new website, roguehospitality.com, went live, showcasing an expanded business that offers not only catering but beverage services, event staffing, menu design, rental coordination, venue selection and event design for any occasion, from an informal cocktail party or pig roast to an elegant plated, sit-down reception.
Rogue Hospitality’s two food trucks, which once peddled sandwiches, soups and salads on the street and at festivals in the Capital Region, have new roles too. “Now we refer to our food truck as ‘our commercial kitchen on wheels,’” Loguidice said.
“We go to where the clients want us. If you are getting married in a field, we will bring our kitchen to you. These are places like old barns, old industrial factories, where they are not really set up for a particular event. It’s a blank space. Everything has to be brought in.”
The Wandering Dago logo, a pink bespectacled pig on a bicycle, has been replaced with the chic golden letters “R” and H.”
“The primary reason we changed the name was really because Wandering Dago didn’t really match up with what we are doing now and what we have planned for the future,” Loguidice said. “Wandering Dago was really known for serving smoked meats and barbecue fusion and stuff like that. It’s different now. We offer a ton of services. We are not a food truck anymore.”
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Wandering Dago began the shift to weddings and events five years ago, and today 80 percent of Rogue’s business is weddings.
For clients, planning the big event begins with a private visit to their tasting room in Schenectady. Cuban or Polish, Spanish or Thai, Rogue’s culinary team fashions highly personalized menus from 15 cuisine styles. They can even incorporate family recipes into a reception.
“Our main thing from the beginning, when we started weddings, was we wanted the food to reflect the couple. It’s what we enjoy doing,” Loguidice said.
She recalled the wedding where the groom wanted to honor his grandmother.
“His grandmother had this fantastic matzo ball recipe," Loguidice said. "So, we used her recipe and we did a matzo ball soup shooter during the cocktail hour. We have learned so much from our clients as far as ethnic food goes. Any time we do something and it’s a success, we add it to our menu, we add it to our data base.”
Wandering Dago started as a food truck business in 2012 but the name, which some Italian-Americans consider an ethnic slur, stirred a controversy after state officials barred their food trucks from state property. Loguidice mounted a fight in federal court against the ban, on freedom-of-speech grounds. She lost an initial ruling but won on appeal.
Loguidice has emerged from the five-year legal battle empowered, she said, like “Rogue,” the female comic book character that inspired the new business name.
“My older brothers were always huge Marvel fans. I grew up listening to them talk about X-Men and The Avengers and all the characters from the time I was a little girl,” she said.
Loguidice identifies with Rogue, who was a strong leader. “But she didn’t really start out that way. She had to find her groove.”
Operating out of the tasting room, Rogue’s wedding season runs from June to October. “In season, we have anywhere from 15 to 30 people working in any given week, depending on what kind of events we have lined up.”
Their clients are people who are looking for an out-of-the-box wedding experience for their guests. “They want nothing cookie cutter,” Loguidice said.
The majority of the weddings take place south of Albany, in the Hudson Valley area. “Mostly from Hudson to Brooklyn,” she said.
As Rogue Hospitality moves forward, Loguidice would like the business to expand with its own event space, not only for weddings but for community events.
“If a non-profit wants to raise some money, they could rent it out and somebody could sell artwork or whatever the case may be.”
To give anyone, not just wedding guests, the opportunity to enjoy their food, the brick-and-mortar place, called Rogue Kitchen, would be a tapas restaurant that serves local seasonal produce and humanely raised meats, she said.
While Loguidice is a vegetarian with no formal food training, her business skills date back to her girlhood in Long Island, where her parents owned a construction business.
“I remember being just 10 years old, working in the office with my mom, doing paperwork,” she said. Loguidice is also an attorney, with degrees from Hofstra University.
In her family, she’s always been the party organizer.
“Whenever we had any kind of event in our family, whether it was a cousin’s birthday or a baby shower, I was the one doing all the planning," Loguidice said. "I love the idea of being able to get down into the details.”
In her self-described role as Rogue’s “chief everything officer,” Loguidice is very involved with her clients. “I’m the first person they talk to,” she said. “I live, breath and sleep this business.”
Her current challenge is getting the word out about the rebranded company.
“I’m super excited to see how the new website and the new brand … how that changes things,” she said. “One of the biggest things we are trying to do is really getting people understand what we do.”