The owners of the Wandering Dago food truck -- Andrea Loguidice and Brandon Snooks -- said Saturday in a statement that the truck was bounced from the Saratoga Race Course after an "unidentified state official" complained that the truck's name is offensive. (full press release post jump)
NYRA spokesman Eric Wing told the TU it had received "several complaints" on Friday. And to the Daily Gazette: "This should have been handled before Friday, but once we received complaints, we took immediate action on behalf of our customers." And to the Saratogian: "Saratoga's a very welcoming family place. If patrons are telling us they are offended, that's important to us." [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian]
The term "dago" has been used as a slur against people of Italian descent, and sometimes people from Spain and Portugal as well. But as Snooks explained to AOA last year, the couple says they had embraced an alternative definition of the word in an effort to reclaim it:
Brandon, who's Italian, explains that he knew the term as a word used for Italian immigrant workers back in the day who wanted to "be paid as the day goes." "Day-goes" became "dago." And in parts of Italian culture, he says the word has been reclaimed as a term of endearment.
Brandon and Andrea say they chose Wandering Dago "because we wander as the day goes."
It appears others aren't ready to get on board with reclaiming the word, though. Snooks and Loguidice also say in the press release that they were "banned by the Empire State Plaza Vendor Program" this year because of the truck's name. Update: From Heather Groll, a spokeswoman for the Office of General Services, which oversees the ESP:
The food vendor in question was not banned from selling food at the Empire State Plaza. OGS has the authority and latitude to determine whether it is appropriate for any particular vendor to be issued a permit. This food truck applied for a vendor permit for the 2013 season and was not issued one. Among other reasons, it was determined that their application was not appropriate because the name of the business was found to be an offensive ethnic slur by any standard.
The food truck open last year, working primarily in Schenectady. It's since expanded its coverage area to also include other parts of the Capital Region (such as Rockin' on the River in Troy, and the Riverview Center in Menands). Snooks and Loguidice moved to the area from Colorado to open the truck.
Wandering Dago press release
The Wandering Dago Food Truck was set to serve the patrons of the 150th season of the Saratoga Race Course, but what was a great opportunity for the increasingly popular food truck has gone up in smoke. Opening day saw large crowds at the truck, but owner Brandon Snooks was notified late that evening that they must leave the track because an unidentified state official had complained that their name was offensive. Mr. Snooks cooperated with officials, but returned again this morning where he was again asked to leave. The Wandering Dago Food Truck has a contract with the Saratoga Race Track for the duration of the meet that requires 30 day written notice of cancellation.
"As a small business the lost revenue is damaging, to say the least. We had to turn down several weddings and a few festivals to make this commitment to the Race Track, not to mention the food product already purchased " said Mr. Snooks. While this is upsetting to the owners of the food truck, it is not the first time they have faced similar discrimination. The Wandering Dago Food Truck has been banned by the Empire State Plaza Vendor Program. Mr. Snooks further comments that, "it is ridiculous that we are a licensed NYS Corporation, yet we are being blocked from doing business by State officials. " The Wandering Dago's name was approved by the NYS Division of Corporations, the NYS Department of Taxation & Finance and the IRS.
The Saratoga Race Course advertises on AOA.
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