This morning I walked up this psychedelic alleyway in downtown Northampton to catch the dawn express to Amherst.
While in beautiful downtown Amherst, at one point I walked past the former Porta restaurant and bar. It was open earlier this spring for a number of weeks, but because so much weird and illegal stuff was going down it got its license to operate yanked. This account by Katherine Esten in the UMass Collegian chronicles some of the goings on:
Regarding the reports on April 19, Officer Matthew Frydryck noted in his testimony that APD received “multiple anonymous calls” concerning the restaurant, including allegations of underage drinking and that female patrons were being asked to show body parts to get in.
At 1:30 a.m., a time when Porta was supposed to be closed, Frydryck saw over 100 patrons still in the establishment. After multiple police officers arrived to the parking lot, the crowd quickly cleared out, Frydryck said.
On April 20, Officers Justin Satkowski and Matthew Ziomek worked on a special assignment in plain clothes. In an APD supplemental narrative, Satkowski stated he observed a female bartender “randomly get up from her seat, serve patrons alcoholic beverages, then return to her seat to drink her beverages.”
In the narrative, Satkowski said an underage male party seated nearby the officers went behind the bar himself to serve alcohol. Satkowski ordered a “cheap draft beer,” but the male party was unable to operate the tap system and returned “half a glass of foamy beer and a Corona.”
“I told him I didn’t want the Corona, so he drank it himself,” Satkowski testified at the hearing.
Before leaving Porta, Satkowski and Ziomek asked the male party how much money they owed for their drinks. The male party stated the debit card machine was not working and that the men “could leave him whatever [they] thought was appropriate.” Ziomek left a five dollar bill, which was pocketed by the male party as a “tip,” according to the narrative.
Later, the male party stated to other officers he was not an employee of Porta.
Today the building stands deserted. While walking behind the pitiful Porta, I saw that a lot of trash was strewn about, left behind no doubt by the former owner.
Who will clean it up? This is exactly the sort of Amherst story that Larry Kelley would have covered with relish.
The other day I stopped by the King Street KFC/Taco Bell in Northampton.
It has been remodeled, and looks pretty good, unlike the changes to the McDonald's next door, which recently went from classic to charmless. As for the KFC/Taco remodeling, it actually improved the appearance of the joint. Dig the KFC bucket-lamp overhead.
To see how the Northampton Taco Bell/KFC used to look, check out the last 30 seconds or so of this Hamp skate video by a former employee.
Yesterday was Taco Tuesday, and the Taco Bell half of these joints were giving away a free taco to anyone who asked before 6pm. This Western Mass video-blogger decides to see how many Taco Bells he can hit in 75 minutes before the deadline. I think I recognize the one in Shrewsbury. West Springfield? How many of these Taco Bells can you identify?