The low down on Haven Downtown |

The low down on Haven Downtown

Brett Bentley
Staff Writer

As a small business owner, Justin Gonzalez understands the importance of a vibrant arts and entertainment scene in a community to help attract and keep skilled employees in our rural setting. Having venues to house performances and special events plays a part in a town's culture.

Although he doesn't have a background in event production, Gonzalez stepped in to re-open the basement space in downtown Nevada City known as the Haven Underground after it closed its doors about a year ago. Proximity played a role — his offices are located above the mid-size venue.

"It just seemed a shame to let it not be open," Gonzalez said. "It didn't make a lot of sense because we need (the venue) downtown."

Gonzalez has invested money in the 2,600-square-foot space, including a more open floor plan with a reconfigured stage, new floors, a prep kitchen, a license to serve beer and wine, and wood accents that keep with the venue's origins. He pointed out that the Haven Downtown — the space's new name — is housed in one of Nevada City's first commercial buildings. The room features original brick walls and iron clad doors from the 1850s. Wood trim adorning the space's two bars comes from repurposed Redwood planks from the area that are more than 100 years old, he added.

"We thought if we made it nicer, they would come," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez saw the potential with the space he calls quintessentially Nevada City.

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"The only reason I'm doing it is because of this space," he said.

Amanda Rogers is the Haven Downtown's director of promotions and booking — otherwise known as the "Haven Maven." She said the vision for the space goes beyond its signature live music performances.

"A nice, intimate, upscale venue in downtown that people can use for events," she said.

That includes private events, such as an upcoming rehearsal dinner for a wedding, workshops, corporate events, birthday parties and more. The space will accommodate about 200 people, with two entrances and handicap accessibility.

On Friday, the Haven Downtown will play host to the second Boombap Block Party. Volume 2 of the monthly series, which began at the Haven Downtown last month, will feature a headlining performance from veteran hip-hop artist, Aceyalone. To learn more about the 9 p.m. show go to For more about the Haven or upcoming shows, go to The Haven is located at 226 Broad St., with a second entrance on Pine Street.

Features Editor Brett Bentley can be reached at or by calling 530-477-4219.

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