BERKELEY'S NEWS • OCTOBER 01, 2022

Bonita Fish Market in Downtown Berkeley closes after 3 years

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AUDREY MCNAMARA | SENIOR STAFF

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AUGUST 16, 2016

Bonita Fish Market, known for its Bay Area-sourced fish and friendly service, has closed its doors after three years of business in Downtown Berkeley.

Vince Vila and Truc Vuong, two fishermen who owned and operated the store, caught some of each week’s hauls themselves in the Berkeley Marina.

Customers in online reviews praised Bonita’s sushi boxes and $1.50 oyster specials — $1 if customers could shuck the oysters on their own. The store offered more than 30 varieties of ethically raised fish, according to its website.

“I’m sad to see them go, but I can’t say I’m super surprised,” said McKinley Baker, a Berkeley resident who came regularly after moving to the area. “After talking to one of the owners, he was mentioning that rents are fairly high in the area, and that’s a prime location.”

As recently as two weeks ago, Bonita management indicated they would be closed only temporarily, Baker said. By Monday, however, the windows were papered and a new notice inside said Bonita would be closed until further notice.

Some customers appreciated the convenient location near Trader Joe’s, at the corner of University and Bonita avenues.

“It was the best place for sashimi near the Berkeley campus and much better value than getting sashimi at a sushi restaurant,” said Richie Zeng, a UC Berkeley alumnus, in an email. “I don’t know where you’d be able to find that in Berkeley anymore.”

The owners could not be reached for comment, and Bonita’s social media accounts have been silent for the past month.

Former customer and city Human Welfare and Community Action commissioner Daniel McMullan said new businesses such as Bonita face tough prospects in their first few years dealing with Berkeley’s high rents.

“It’s so scary for people — they might get a lease for a year and then (have) rent raised (when) just getting started,” McMullan said, adding that he didn’t know specifically why Bonita closed. “I’d hate to think it’s because of rent rising.”

Because of this, McMullan said, “We lose a lot of cool stuff in Berkeley.”

With their doors shuttered until further notice, Bonita joins several other vacancies on the surrounding block.

Armin Wolski, a principal consultant at Reax Engineering Inc., said he regrets not visiting Bonita more often while working just a few doors down. But he added that he looks forward to the new business opening soon at another vacancy next door, where Fred’s Market closed multiple years ago.

The new business will be an exercise studio, according to Wolski. In light of Bonita’s unexpected closing, he said he’s hoping not to miss out on a spin class.

Contact Alexander Barreira at  or on Twitter

LAST UPDATED

AUGUST 16, 2016


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