"Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Joe Gorga is accusing his ex-business partners of running his co-owned Italian restaurant into the ground, and says his family name has been tarnished over broken toilets, spoiled pasta sauce and a Groupon debacle.
According to a letter -- sent by Joe and Melissa Gorga's high profile attorney, Sarah M. Cabarcas Osman of Berman & Berman -- he entered into an agremeent last year to partner in the remodeling and re-opening of a New Jersey restaurant as "Gorga's Homemade Pizza & Pasta."
In return for a 50% stake in the venture, Gorga agreed to provide family photos for the décor and also contribute to the menu with family recipes like the Gorga homemade red sauce, Little Joey's Chicken Piccata and Melissa's Harvest Salad. In fact, Gorga said his father spent a month in the kitchen teaching employees how to properly replicate the family staples. The restaurant also appeared on the Bravo TV show.
Gorga said after the restaurant opened, he and Melissa "started having some serious concerns as to the quality of the food, the service, management and the accounting practices." Gorga said he asked to be included in all business decisions, but was continually left out of the management and operation of the restaurant. He even says during a surprise visit he discovered the place was
Gorga says that he complained about the restaurant to the other owners, but was told he and Melissa "should increase the number of Instagram posts referencing" the establishment to help with promotion.
The "Real Housewives" star also says the restaurant was selling bottled versions of his family's pasta sauce online ... but without any preservatives it wasn't safe for consumers. He says he demanded they stop selling the sauce, but claims it was still being offered to customers in the brick and mortar store.
Finally, Gorga says he was embarrassed after discovering the restaurant was not honoring Groupons and gift certificates. He says he immediately pulled out of the business and informed the owners that the Gorga name was in no way to be associated with the restaurant.
Since leaving the business, Joe and Melissa say the place is still using their name and photos, and want them to stop ASAP and also to take a look at all the profits the company made while using the Gorga name.
Unfortunately for the restaurant, it is now closing in the wake of all the fighting and bad press ... but Joe and Melissa are clearly not letting the fight go, and appear to be getting ready to go to the mattresses for a big payday.