“We let our customers get creative. If they invent it, we’ll name the sandwich after them. If a few of people ask for something, we’ll just put it on the menu. It’s their truck. The inspiration for our food is based on what people want.”
It’s reasons like this, the eager-to-please, inviting essence of Schenectady, NY’s Wandering Dago food truck, that they’ve been nominated for Mobile Cuisine’s 2012 National Rookie of the Year award, after less than 5 months of business.
“We don’t know who nominated us, but we were super shocked,” Brandon Snooks said of his truck. “Everybody that has some kind of business always reaches a point when you wonder how you are doing. We always want to know what we can do better and what we can do differently so this was a happy new year’s gift.”
How it All Began
Food trucks are on a roll these days (pun intended) and the dream-made reality of self-taught chef Snooks and his girlfriend Andrea Loguidice is no exception. They picked up their life in Denver where they met, and headed to NY state with plans to open a restaurant.
After reconsidering their original blueprints, they had a change of heart and decided to take their show on the road. “I wanted to get into the food truck world for a while. I had funds set up for the restaurant and decided to get this going,” Snooks said.
Wandering Dago (a play on words for their travel and day-to-day work) offers everything from 1 lb hearty meat sandwiches slathered in rich sauce to lighter made-to-order chopped salads, all prepared from scratch.
Although their logo indicates a vehicle full of swine, Wandering Dago caters towards veggie lovers as well. “The food is inspired by two totally different worlds. Andrea is a vegetarian who grew up on the east coast with a much healthier lifestyle, and I grew up on a cattle ranch in Montana,” Snooks said. “The menu is the brainchild of two very different points of views on food. Our goal is to be inspired by the seasons and partner with others in the area to keep it local.”
Where to Find Them
Wandering Dago first parked itself on the corner of Union Street and Seward Place in Schenectady, NY, an area they were told was lacking in its food scene. With about 3,000 students enrolled in nearby Union College, Snooks knew it was just the drive they were looking for.
“We hit it off with them on the first day. We worked night shifts from 10-2 AM feeding a lot of college students. They’re fun and great for our business. They love the social media side of it and have supported us on Twitter so we don’t have to buy ads in the newspaper,” Snooks said. “They’ll tell us where events and parties are and sometimes we’ll just park over on Greek row for the fraternities and sororities.”
After seeing such success with the after midnight crowd, Wandering Dago began branching out to what he refers to as their day job. “MVP Health Care has a corporate office in downtown Schenectady so we park right outside four days a week to serve them lunch from 11-1:30.” Snooks is currently looking for approval to set up shop in the evenings so he can feed the night shift when their cafeteria closes at 9pm.
What’s Happening Next
Knowing he won’t be able to keep Loguidice, a practicing Environmental Lawyer, on staff for much longer, he’s getting ready to hire his first assistants. “Andrea was nice enough to help me out for a little while. I’ve been lucky to keep her on the truck, but she’s going back to work very soon,” he said. Fortunately, he has a huge following of college students who are eager to hop on part-time as Wandering Dago prepares for a busy season ahead.
Once their winter hiatus wraps, they’ll be debuting their spring selections (with a That’s SO Jenn tribute on the menu!) before heading to the Saratoga race track this summer.
Snooks is hoping to perfect the art of churning out his own bacon and fresh pasta dough, along with introducing a charbroiler to the truck. First mission: to honor their popular request for sliders and try out skewers with a variety of dipping sauces. “I think if we give them the option to have something good without bread, it would be a hit,” he said.
“We’re really considering all kinds of ideas. Our menu is morphing into smaller, healthier plates, like tapas. We’re working on including complementary mini versions of our sides, like quinoa salad with roasted almonds and lemon zest, as an option instead of chips.”
Wandering Dago’s packed event schedule of fairs, catering gigs, post-wedding parties and updated specials is available via text messaging blasts so you can stay in the loop.
“We’re just trying to have as much fun as we can. Life is too short to not enjoy what you do.” Good thing he is doing just that.
You can vote for Wandering Dago in their Rookie of the Year competition, through Friday January 18th.