A Mass will be celebrated for Mel Ah-Yun, the owner of Swiss Buda, a south Sacramento watering hole where he was a friendly presence for half a century.
Mr. Ah-Yun, 75, died Aug. 24 from lung cancer at home.
Customer and friend Gil Luna said he started going to the bar at 2342 Fruitridge Road in 1965 when he worked at the nearby city corporation yard.
The bar, in its early days, was a true neighborhood bar, pulling in working men and women who stopped for a pop after work or lingered over long lunches.
"People were comfortable there and they knew they were going to meet good friends," Luna said. "Mel contributed to the atmosphere by just being Mel. He was his outgoing self. It was also how he greeted everyone."
For years, Mr. Ah-Yun had a bar partner, Pete Rossi. In a recent Question & Answer column in The Bee, Mr. Ah-Yun related how the bar, formerly a Japanese dinner house, got its name:
"I'm the one who named it. Pete Rossi was Italian Swiss and the other owner's Japanese slang name was 'Buda head.' They talked about Jade Buda, Buda this, Buda that. I suggested Swiss Buda."
In the recent Q&A, Mr. Ah-Yun said there were fewer old-timers at the bar these days. But young people are drawn in increasing numbers for karaoke nights.
He kept the prices low: $3 for drinks and $2.75 for domestic beer, served in a cold can.
Nick Jamson, a former bartender at Swiss Buda and now a Fair Oaks bar owner, said he learned a lot from his old boss.
"He taught me you have to take care of the customer," Jamson said. "And he made me aware that you have to know everyone's job: what the bartenders do, the night shift, the day shift, the afternoon shift. You have to know what the cleaning people are doing."
Born and raised in the Hawaiian Islands, Mr. Ah-Yun came to Sacramento at age 24. He was an avid golfer and followed both the Oakland A's and Raiders.
His son, Bull Ah-Yun, said he loved his family, especially his grandchildren. His father, he said, was an honorable man.
"He was very true to his word, and very true to his friends," Bull Ah-Yun said. "Some can count the number of their good friends on one hand. I don't have enough hands to count the number of friends who would do anything for him."
A Mass will be celebrated at 9 a.m. today at St. Rose Church, 5961 Franklin Blvd. A celebration of his life will follow about 11 a.m. at Swiss Buda.
He is survived by his son; sisters, Eva Brub and Louise Lau of Hawaii; and four grandchildren.
Remembrances may be made to Shriners Hospital for Children Northern California, 2425 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95817.