Amsterdam woman has taken her culinary talents on the road

By CAROLINE MURRAY

caroline.murray@recordernews.com

Sometimes businesses start because someone has a better idea.

For 21-year-old Samanatha Banewicz the start of her food concessionaire trailer and catering business -- Sammy's Country Wagon -- was just that simple.

Banewicz, an Amsterdam resident, said the idea to open up a food wagon came last October during a 5K race her brother participated in in Saratoga Springs.

At the event, Banewicz said she was mesmerized by hundreds of people standing in line in front of a not-so-attractive looking food truck with a loud generator.

"I thought, I could do that," she said.

That evening, Banewicz hopped online and researched food trucks.

By the next morning, she had already purchased a concessionaire trailer from a restaurant owner in Corning.

"I am so impulsive," she said.

Her impulse buy turned out to be a smart investment.

On Thursday, like most days, Banewicz was parked at the corner of Truax Road and Route 67 in Amsterdam. For starters, Sammy's Country Wagon resembles a log cabin. The appearance alone is enough to turn the head of any driver whizzing down the road.

Second, the wagon is hooked up to the rear of her pickup truck and the generator sits inside the bed of the truck.

Banewicz can drag her business along with her anywhere, but stores the wagon at her parents' house when it's closed.

"I have something different," Banewicz said.

She officially opened Dec. 16, seven months after she graduated from Schenectady Community College where she studied culinary courses, but completed a degree in hotel business management.

Banewicz admitted the brutal winter was not an ideal time to open, but the slow days prepared her for a busy summer.

Besides breakfast sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs and french fries, Banewicz said she wanted to offer alternative healthier foods as well. So she added wraps and smoothies to the menu; both items are the wagon's best sellers.

And it is no surprise, either.

The smoothies are preservative-free, fat-free, dairy-free and made with 100 percent fruit (from a pre-made juice mix).

The strawberry smoothie is refreshing and the perfect treat for any sweet tooth -- not to mention a healthier alternative to ice cream.

The drink pairs well with Sammy's salty potato chips or french fries, which are served on the side of any wrap or sandwich.

"One day I would like to have a wagon for just smoothies," Banewicz said.

She grew up in Amsterdam and was home-schooled up until her junior year of high school.

Her mother, Kim Banewicz, said her daughter had an entrepreneurial spirit before she entered her teens. At age 12, young Samantha made her own products -- cookies, candies, crocheted items -- and sold them for a profit.

When Samantha approached her mother about running her own food wagon and catering business, mom was not surprised.

"She always has a new idea and is never afraid to try anything," Kim Banewicz said.

Sammy used to work in sales and tended bar before starting her country wagon. She said she always wanted to be her own boss.

"I get to be creative and try new things," Banewicz said. "I love to meet new people -- you have one chance to impress them."

This summer, Banewicz said she is booked at fairgrounds in Fonda, Ballston Spa and Altamont.

Her boyfriend, Rotterdam resident Zach Zeh, runs his own bounce house and tent business. Banewicz said they have booked graduation parties and other events together as well.

Although Banewicz is an independent business owner, she said Zeh and her family have been a big support.

"I couldn't have done it without them," she said.