Northampton’s Hinge closes in wake of owner’s arrest on drug charges



Last modified: Tuesday, December 08, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — The Hinge bar, restaurant and music venue appears to have shut down over the weekend after its owner and manager was arrested by a narcotics squad on drug charges last Wednesday in South Windsor, Connecticut.

Aaron Kater, 29, whose last known address was in Pelham, was released from jail after being held on a $200,000 bond. On Saturday, he was soliciting help to pack up items at Hinge, 48 Main St., according to a post on Kater’s Facebook page.

“Due to the circumstances at hand Hinge will be closing,” the post reads. “Anyone that may be available tomorrow between 12-5pm to help pack Hinge up would be very much appreciated. If you have a truck, some tools or just a couple of helping hands please consider helping. Tomorrow is the last day for me to be in and out of Hinge so any amount of time would be amazing!”

The post also included an apology to those who had “heard the news,” stating “I have done my best for the community and words cannot portray my appreciation for all of the Hinge Krewe out there! I love you, thank you!”

It was unclear Monday how many employees were left out of work by the sudden shutdown. The front door bore a large white sign that read “CLOSED” Sunday night, when the business is normally open.

A message posted to the Facebook page of the Fear Nuttin’ Band — which was scheduled to play a “Thanksgiving Eve” concert at Hinge Wednesday — also noted the venue’s “sudden closing,” and said the concert had been moved to Gateway City Arts in Holyoke.

Kater and another man were arrested last Wednesday by a drug squad in Connecticut after police say they found 35 pounds of marijuana packed into two large audio speakers in a 2008 Subaru Outback the pair were traveling in through South Windsor.

The car had Massachusetts plates and had been traveling at a high rate of speed when police stopped the vehicle as part of an operation targeting “a street level narcotic dealer driving in and around the area,” according to a statement issued by Connecticut’s East Central Narcotics Task Force.

Police said the marijuana was found in two large speakers in the cargo area of the car. Assisting the task force were the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and South Windsor Police.

Kater faces charges of possession of more than four ounces of marijuana; possession with intent to sell; conspiracy to possess more than four ounces and conspiracy with intent to sell. He is scheduled to return to court Jan. 6, according to the Connecticut court system.

Also arrested was the driver of the vehicle, David Loomis, 30, of Halifax, Vermont, on the same charges and a charge of speeding, according to police. Loomis also was being held on a $200,000 bond and is due back in court in January.

Kater took over as owner and manager of Hinge earlier this year from Brian Aussant, who opened the business in 2012. Aussant informed the city last week in an email that he is still the leaseholder.

Neither Kater nor Aussant returned phone calls Monday seeking comment.

Dan Crowley can be reached at dcrowley@gazettenet.com


 


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