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"They tried to be too upscale, too downtown for that area," says a former employee of Dolce in Bonita. "That's why they are boarded up now."

The restaurant and dance club -- which abruptly closed down two weeks ago -- presented Latin and hip-hop dance music on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. In January, South Bay entrepreneur Phil Berdeski opened Dolce in the building formerly known as the Bonita Store.

"They did the whole VIP-treatment thing," says the ex-employee. "They had a dress code and bottle service where you paid, like, $200 for a bottle of liquor at your table. You had to get reservations to get in."

Berdeski says, "We were packed every single month -- January, February, and March. But then something went haywire.... I found out later there was a knife fight in the parking lot of the liquor store next door [in March]. They closed off Bonita Road. There were 16 police cars. Two people were taken to the hospital. Right after that, sales went to hell. Each month, business was down $5000 from the month before...."

Berdeski says he plans to remodel the place and reopen it as a sports bar called Strike Three.

"I got soured on entertainment. I want to go back to sports and bartenders, the way it used to be."

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