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Power Club named in honor of pioneer gold mining family descendent

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Alfred Lee’s dream of opening a restaurant and bar in Downtown Auburn with an Irish pub atmosphere to honor a friend is about to come true. Lee, owner of the Power’s Mansion Inn bed and breakfast, said he decided on an Irish theme and the name Power Club for the Harrison Avenue business to pay tribute to his friend, the late Jim Power. Power, a retired builder who lived for two decades in Foresthill, was the great-grandson of Irish immigrant Michael Power, who discovered the lucrative Hidden Treasure Gold Mine near Foresthill. The landmark Power’s Mansion Inn was built with gold profits by Michael Power’s son in the latter part of the 19th century. The establishment’s opening will be marked by a celebration today honoring Jim Power, who died March 29 last year. The Power family’s roots in Placer County can be traced back to 1854 and its good fortune in gold is symbolized by the massive Queen Anne house that now serves as a 16-bedroom bed and breakfast inn. Lee, along with his wife, Peggy, bought the inn in 2004 and have since lovingly restored much of its charm and historical ambience, while expanding the grounds and adjoining property into a wedding and events center. Lee, who earlier achieved business success by making and selling modular Italian charm bracelets, has since bought the adjoining Livingston Block business and commercial building. On the upstairs floor, the Lees have already established a 3,000-square-foot wedding and event room. Their latest endeavor, next to the event room, is the Irish-themed restaurant and bar that is opening next week for breakfast and lunch. “We’re trying to make it into a flourishing area for Auburn,” Lee said. “We love this town.” Lee said the friendship he had with Power was a special one, strengthened by the knowledge that the Power family had tried to provide good working conditions for Chinese and Irish workers in their mine. A large shadowbox will be displayed at the Power Club (the club’s full name is the James Visel Power Fan Club). “It has nothing to do with power, but, instead, is a short version of the name that honors Jim,” Lee said. On Sunday, Lee will gather with friends and family to toast Jim Power’s memory and the beginning of a new business in Auburn that bears a familiar name. “The idea is to commemorate him and dedicate it to him and his life,” Lee said. The 195 Harrison Ave. bar is licensed to serve a good Irish whisky as well as wine and beer. The bar will feature beer brewed on site. Lee is a federally licensed brewer whose beer has won awards in North Carolina. The restaurant, with most items priced for budget-watching customers under $7, is anchored by chefs Rodrigo Garcia and Ray Webb. “We’re featuring good-sized portions that are inexpensive,” Webb said. Among the menu items the Power Club will be offering as signature dishes is Webb’s St. Louis-style pork ribs with honey bourbon sauce and asiago cheese fries. A breakfast specialist, Garcia points to his French toast, stuffed with cream cheese and orange marmalade, topped with pureed blueberries and strawberries, and accompanied by scrambled eggs and sausage. Webb has worked at the San Francisco Cliff House and more recently, for 13 years, at the Auburn Golf and Country Club. Garcia’s experience includes eight years at Mimi’s Café and 14 years at Daniella’s in Sacramento. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com or comment at Auburnjournal.com.