March 1, 2002: Shanghai co-owner Richard Yue receives the prestigious McCann Award from the Auburn Journal. Named in honor of the paper’s former business manager, Vernon “Mr. Auburn” McCann, the award recognizes Auburnites who have made vast contributions to the community.
June 6, 2005: Annie Yue, daughter of Shanghai founder Charlie Yue, passes away at age 93, more evidence of the incredible longevity of the family.
June 19, 2005: The Shanghai Restaurant & Bar rings “Last Call” when the business closes after more than 100 years of operation. A long-simmering dispute between cousins lead to a schism that spelled the end of this fabled watering hole. Building owner Mervin Yue could not come to lease terms with his cousins, Shanghai owners Herb and Richard Yue, who during the following weekend, auctioned off much of the memorabilia collected over a century.
Oddly enough, the closure took place a month shy of the 100th anniversary of the 1905 fire that nearly destroyed the American Block building.
The building would sit empty for many months before Mervin Yue demolished the interior, reinforced the building and replaced the rotted floors with concrete, making way for a new tenant.
October 19, 2005: Some 14 fire trucks and 50 firefighters turn out in the early morning hours to fight another huge blaze that started in the Mercantile Building on Sacramento St. The Oz jewelry store and the building housing two restaurants—Awful Annies and Old Town Pizza—sustained heavy damage. Though the rear of the Shanghai—then vacant for nearly four months—was adjacent to the fire, it suffered no damage.
October 21, 2006: Brian and Lisa Ford sign a lease agreement and begin construction of the new Auburn Alehouse a few months later. Michael Kent Murphy of Auburn is selected as architect for the project.
May 30, 2007: Former co-owner of the Shanghai, Harry Yue, dies. His ambition was to live to be 90, and he died the day after achieving that goal. Along with his brother, Carl, Harry took over operations of the Shanghai Restaurant in 1946 from their father, Charlie. According to a report in the Auburn Journal, Harry was born in Auburn and was a leader in the Auburn Fire Department (after fires were extinguished, fire trucks would clog the Plaza as fireman refreshed themselves in the Shanghai). He turned the business over to his nephews Herb and Richard Yue in 1976.
June 15, 2007: The Auburn Alehouse officially opens in Old Town.
October 28, 2008: A reunion of cast members and extras from the filming of Phenomenon is held on the Plaza in front of the Auburn Alehouse. A commemorative plaque is embedded in the pavement with the inscription: “Phenomenon. . .Everything is on its way to somewhere. . .1995”. Alehouse Brewmaster Brian Ford creates a special brew to celebrate the event: Phenomenon Ale.
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Melanie Barton, Museums Administrator for Placer County; Debbie Poulsen, Placer County Museums Archives & Research Center; and April McDonald-Loomis, City Historian of Auburn, CA. Their assistance in helping develop this chronology and locating photographs and other documents has been invaluable.