Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News
‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ stars Joe and Teresa Giudice leave Newark Federal Court after pleading not guilty to fraud charges. They could each go to prison for as long as 50 years.
Teresa Giudice was hoping to give “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” a sweet plot twist before things went sour with the feds.
Just days before the reality TV star and her husband Joe were slapped with federal fraud charges, they were scouting locations for a “cupcake cafe,” sources familiar with their plans told The Daily News.
Teresa wasn’t looking to make a career change, the sources said. She saw the shop generating new plot lines for her Bravo show along the lines of “2 Broke Girls.”
That CBS sitcom is about two Williamsburg waitresses — one formerly rich, the other always poor — who scrape-up enough dough to open a cupcake shop that quickly goes bust.
The Giudices had zeroed-in on a restaurant for lease located in a strip mall just a mile from their tacky $ 1.7 million mansion in Montville Township, N.J., the sources said.
Just last week, Teresa came by herself to scope out the site, they said.
Alas, there is already a bakery that sells cupcakes and other treats in the strip mall, along with a salon, barber shop and a deli.
And the owner of the property is looking to lease the 60-seat, 1357-square-foot spot to a full-scale restaurant, town sources told The News.
Teresa is no stranger to the suburban neighborhood. It’s just around the corner from a mini-mansion she and her husband built as an investment and sold for a cool $ 990,000 in 2007, records show.
“It’s nice and spacious,” said Christina, the 20-year-old daughter of the owners, who declined to give her last name.
The Giudices wanted to operate a ‘cupcake cafe’ near their McMansion.
She also sounded shocked when told that the Giudices could each wind up serving 50 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
“Oh, that’s our builder,” she said.
Teresa and Joe live in a neighborhood of McMansions, and they’d worn out their welcome long before they were slapped Monday with a 39-count indictment charging them with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and bankruptcy fraud.
Some neighbors complained that Teresa and Joe are as surly in real life as they appear on the show and that their house has become a favorite spot for gawkers.
“A family from Indiana driving to New York stopped by wanting to know where their house was,” one local business owner said. “My sister-in-law from Florida came up and wanted to see their house. I said, ‘Let’s drive by!”
Still, the Giudices have fans in the area, especially at A&A Fine Foods, an Italian gourmet deli in nearby Lincoln Park where they’re regulars.
An autographed photo of Teresa in a slinky dress leaning seductively against a convertible hangs proudly in the entryway.
“She used to come by all the time before she got the show,” said owner Alfonso Ciampa. “Now they’re more low-profile because when they come in, people are gawking and bothering them for autographs.”
Teresa always orders the eggplant sandwich. Joe orders a different sub every time. And both of them love the meatballs, Ciampa said.
Evidently Ciampa has never had to endure the boorish behavior Joe and his foul-mouthed parents displayed on Tuesday – before and after the couple made their first court appearance to answer the federal fraud charges.
Joe slapped a news camera out of the way, his parents swore at reporters, and his dad, Frank, capped it all by mooning the shutterbugs.
At least he kept his pants on.