Togo’s cart owner allowed back into Quad, fans rejoice - The State Hornet: News

Togo’s cart owner allowed back into Quad, fans rejoice

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Posted: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 12:00 am

Familiar cries of "Sandwich and Soda!" and "It's a lunchtime!" fill the Library Quad after Cheng Wang and his Togo's cart were allowed back on campus after a semester-long absence.

Last semester, Wang was not present in the Quad because the Togo's cart he operates was not up to date with new Sacramento County Department of Environmental Management refrigerated food cart standards, according to University Enterprises Inc.

After a Sacramento County health officer preformed a routine inspection and noticed the violation, Togo's was asked to remove the cart from the Quad until the proper permit could be obtained, Wang said.

As the Hornet reported in April, the Sacramento County Department of Environmental Management said to operate a mobile cart, Togo's must maintain it at a constant temperature of 41 degrees to ensure fresh sandwiches, and include the name and address of its business on the cart.

During last semester, Wang continued to work in the Togo's located in the River Front Center.

The cart is not refrigerated and instead uses ice to cool the sandwiches it contains.

Nicole Johnson, dining services coordinator for UEI said UEI needed to purchase a satellite cart permit if it was going to operate the Togo's cart outside. Initially, UEI would have to purchase a refrigerated cart, but it was decided the current cart was alright to use.

The Department of Environmental Management said in April UEI must purchase a new permit that costs $190 a year as well as maintain regular inspections by the department.

UEI eventually purchased the required permit, and Wang and his Togo's cart are once again free to sell sandwiches and sodas.

"Cheng has been a longtime employee and we really value him ... we're really pleased to have him out there ... to have en employee who's really out there with the campus community is a win-win for everyone." Johnson said.

While the card situation was being resolved, Wang has maintained the attitude that has made him popular with students. He said he understands why he asked to leave the Quad, but he is overwhelmingly glad to be back working outside.

Wang's journey to his role at Sacramento State started overseas. Wang, originally from China, finished his undergraduate studies at Shanghai College of Tongji University and came to the United States on a student visa in 1989.

Wang's visa was originally for a university in Connecticut, but after the jetliner he was supposed to take to the U.S. was hijacked, and San Jose State University lost his paperwork, Wang decided to attend Sac State.

Wang said his uncle, a professor at UC San Francisco and Wang's financial sponsor, recommended he stay in California and attend Sac State. Wang started school in spring of 1990 as a mechanical engineering major, and received straight A's in all his classes; with the exception of an A-minus in introduction to finite elemental analysis.

After he graduated, Wang worked as a HVAC engineer until a stroke in 1993 left him disabled. Not able to work and facing a poor business climate, Wang took a job as a translator at Sac State's Translation and Language Center, where he translated English into Chinese until 1998. In 2002, Wang took a job with Togo's - where he's worked ever since.

"I have the best sales on campus" Wang said proudly.

Since returning to the Quad at the beginning of this semester Wang said he is making new friends as well as re-establishing old ones.

"I love people," Wang said "I feel like I'm teaching them (through my experiences) even though we're not in a classroom."

Students are fond of Wang as well. In 2009, senior communication studies major Kyle Madson established a Facebook page for Wang with 6,125 fans called "SAAAAAAAAAAAAANDWICH AND SODA!"

"I got involved in supporting Cheng when talking with some friends about him one night at Dennys. We realized everyone knew him, but nobody really ever recognized him, so we decided he needed a Facebook group so people could show their support." Madson said in an email.

Madson said the absence of Wang's customary cries of sandwiches and sodas was unnerving.

"Him not being there, initially, was kind of a jolt to my daily routine. I feel like it was that way for a lot of the campus community as well, as a lot of people inquired about his whereabouts both on Facebook and around campus," he said.

Madson said he was thrilled when he saw Wang was back on campus.

"I felt like things were normal on campus again. I think most students would agree. I've seen lots of people interacting with him, shaking his hand or saying hello or waving. Everyone seems happy to have Cheng back." Madson said.

Madson said his best memory of Wang was from his freshman year.

"I had a test and had a Scantron in my hand when I walked past him," Madson said. "I was really stressed, but Cheng said ‘Good luck on your test.' I don't know why, but hearing that calmed my nerves a lot. I got a B+ on the test and I like to credit Cheng with helping me ease my mind so I could focus."

Robert Linggi can be reached at

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