ALBANY, N.Y. -- It's now in the hands of a federal judge whether or not a local food truck company can serve on state property. State officials have banned the company from the Saratoga Race Course and the Empire State Plaza because some found the food truck's name to be offensive. A word in it has been used as a racial slur against Italian Americans.
The three sides involved all presented their case Thursday, with attorneys for the truck owners saying it's their First Amendment right to choose the name. The owners applied to be one of the vendors for the summer lunch program at the Plaza, but OGS, who oversees the program, denied the application, citing concerns about the name. NYRA argued the same thing Thursday.
The difference though, is that NYRA had approved the application for a spot at the track.
"And you know what, they made that decision in this case. They made the decision they wanted Wandering Dago, it wasn't their proprietary decision. It was a senior state official telling them they had to get out," said George Carpinello, an attorney for the food truck.
"Our story has not changed. We have had our name, 'Wandering Dago.' We get paid as the day goes. Our story has not changed ever. We get paid as the day goes," owner Brandon Snooks said.
The state official who initiated the process to have the truck removed from the track is Ben Liebman, the Deputy Secretary for Gaming and Racing.
While the track season is over and the lunch program ends October 4th, Snooks brought the case to court with next year in mind.
Attorneys for NYRA and OGS declined to comment on camera.