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North Huntingdon strip club owner determined to reopen

| Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

As destroyed carpets were ripped out of Gloria's Cantina Lounge, a crew covered the outside of the building with a fresh coat of bright blue paint.

The North Huntingdon strip club is closed under court order, but owner Gloria Brugnoli, 83, said she is determined to reopen it by mid-September. Crews are preparing by cleaning up the inside, which was damaged by water during its closure.

“It will reopen within the next month,” Brugnoli said last week while sitting inside the muggy club.

Judge Gary Caruso granted a temporary order to close the club last November. The order is set to expire this November after a 12-month closure, but, Brugnoli said, she is working with her attorney to reopen it sooner.

Dante Bertani, Brugnoli's attorney, did not return calls for comment.

“Recently, Mr. Bertani has asked what would be necessary for the bar to open before that 12 months,” District Attorney John Peck said. “They haven't come to a conclusion yet. Any reopening would include numerous conditions on the bar so these incidents don't occur in the future.”

Police were tipped off to illegal activity inside the club by several patrons, said Andrew Lisiecki, North Huntingdon police chief.

“We were receiving complaints from people that were customers about open drug sales and prostitution,” he said.

The club was closed because a state police raid resulted in the arrest of two dancers and a patron. During five undercover stings, agents were sold drugs and propositioned for sex, according to testimony from court hearings late last year.

Brugnoli, who opened the lounge in 1970, said she has received several phone calls from regular customers and women planning bachelorette parties inquiring about the reopening. The club sometimes has male dancers.

“I want to open up like I was before and have my customers back,” she said.

Brugnoli said she likes to sit at the bar to keep an eye on all of her patrons. When she sees patrons getting rowdy, she intervenes to settle them down, she said.

When she reopens, Brugnoli said, she will consider making the lounge open to members only and issuing keys to those people.

Until then, she is dealing with water damage inside the lounge. Carpeting was ripped out and a new dance floor and ceiling will need to be put in, she said.

“Nobody knew about the damage until they got in here,” Brugnoli said. “They're working fast on this.”

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