It takes two to Dago: will Dining Services compromise?: The Wandering Dago hopes that students can use declining balance at food truck in near future

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By Greg Brenn

Although they pride themselves on “wandering as the day goes,” Brandon Snooks and Andrea Loguidice, owners of the Wandering Dago food truck, hope that Schenectady can be the city that puts the brakes on their nomadically delicious lifestyle. The blue, retrofitted UPS truck, with the iconic cycling pig logo, is a common sight across the street from the up-campus Greek houses. After reading the Jan. 31 Concordy article addressing the overcrowding at Union, Snooks and Loguidice saw an opportunity for their food truck business to alleviate some of the congestion during peak dining hours on campus.

Director of Dining Services David Gaul explained the hurdles involved with bringing an outside dining entity on to campus during the peak dining hours.  “The problem is that there is a legal issue with using declining balance at off-campus food services,” Gaul explained. “It is constructed solely for the purpose of use at on-campus dining locations.” New York tax laws state, “the sales must be made at a restaurant, tavern or other establishment located on the premises of the post-secondary school, and the school itself must be operated by an exempt organization.” These are the same tax laws that limit the use of declining balance in the bookstore to only food and beverages.

The Wandering Dago owners adamantly believe that they could contribute to Union’s dining scene. “We work a lot right now with Greek organizations on campus, with philanthropy events, and we’ve gotten great feedback with the price and quality of our food. The rest of the campus, we believe, would benefit from this food option without having to travel up campus to try our food,” Snooks explained, which is one reason why they believe their service would be ideal to serve a significantly larger clientele at Union.

However, last spring, Gaul and his team began discussing the resurgence of the college’s own mobile food cart.  The food cart named FRED, which stands for Fast Ready Easy Dutch, was discontinued before any current students were enrolled at Union.  FRED accepted declining balance and offered a variety of food options from sandwiches to soups and even burritos.  Gaul explained that they “are still in the process of sourcing a vehicle,” but “we’ve been talking about bringing the cart back in the fall.”

The Wandering Dago has since been allowed on-campus following athletic events. Gaul explained, “I met with the director of athletics and we agreed that it would be okay for the Wandering Dago to park on campus after athletic events such as soccer, lacrosse and hockey games. He went on, “It isn’t supposed to be that they are impacting our service, but that they provide an alternative spot for [students] to get food which is not identical to the offerings on campus.”

Snooks and Loguidice have recently begun talking with other colleges, such as Skidmore, to see if they would allow their food services to be more integrated into the school’s dining scene. “We’ve met a lot of cool people here at Union,” Snooks said, “but we want to give Union a try before moving on to other opportunities.”

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