The island of Haven-on-the-Lake was actually inspired by 3-4 of my favorite locations in the world. And a few I wish existed.
Mackinac Island is basically the layout I picture when I write about the lively, jam-packed Main Street (aka: The Heart of Haven) filled with bars, restaurants, boutiques, gift shops, etc.
The storefronts on Haven are probably a little more candy-colored than Mack, but the general idea is the same. And the two large hotels that serve as giant bookends for the downtown area are in my books, too. The Majestic to the west and Island Pointe Hotel to the east are similar to Mackinac's Grand and Mission Point. I love them both for very different reasons.
On the north side of the island, where there's a whole lot of nothing on Mackinac is where I put the great taco bar, Cabanas, owned by the Flores family. Hot Isabella works there.
On Mackinac, there's not much of anything on the east side of the island either, but I branched out Cabanas to put a salsa bar there: Havenas, run by Isabella's brothers. The salsa bar was actually inspired by Salsa Night in Tamarindo, Costa Rica (where I lived for a year), which was always a spicy affair with great people-watching. And amazing dancers! Like Isabella.
Sprinkled into Main Street are a few bars inspired by Put-in-Bay, Ohio, a boaters/party island in Lake Erie. That's where I got the idea to replace horses with golf carts. And also because I fantasize about only having to drive a golf cart someday as my "car."
The Round House on PIB was inspiration for Rounds Bar, because they're both, well, round. And TRH on PIB has a stage behind the bartenders. There's also a great bar on Mackinac, The Pink Pony, that has an elevated stage behind the bartenders, too. Just big enough to fit a guitar player. I've always loved that clever use of space. So I plopped Round's Center Stage right in the middle of the giant circle mahogany bar that takes up most of Rounds in Haven. I love the idea of a center, circle stage being in the middle of a circle bar inside a circle building. Such a great space to gather. And the Haveners do. Often. That's where you'll meet Kade, who runs the place.
Back to real life...there's a bar at the end of the strip on PIB that was my inspiration for Charlie's. Can't recall the name but it's just a hole-in-the-wall place with a shitty jukebox and a lonnng bar and darts, and I've had some good, good times there. I remember wearing beads one year, handed out by the bartenders. Charlotte is the owner, and Ruby's first friend on the island. Charlotte is Charlie. And she's a feisty 60-somethin' by the time Sheltered in Haven happens, but she's Ruby's dearest girlfriend. And we all need our friends.
Key West was an inspiration for some places on Haven, too. Spinnker's North is a spin-off of Schooners Wharf in Key West. Probably one of my top 10 favorite bars in the world, because of the salty, battered wharfy atmosphere, the amazing music, and the dogs that wander in for scraps and pats.
Spinnaker's North (on Haven) is a little nicer because it's the marina bar, but the spirit is there. And the manager/bartender, Sawyer, is probably one of my favorite characters. Even though he starts out as a bit of an asshole. He'll admit that to you.
Okay, that's it for now on my Haven-spiration, but that's just a peek into how and why Haven is so real to me. It shares a beat with many favorite for-real places that live in my heart.
You'll love them all, I promise!
Coming very soon...