We combine optical microspectroscopy and electronic measurements to study how gold deposition affects the physical properties of graphene. We find that the electronic structure, the electron-phonon coupling, and the doping level in gold-plated graphene are largely preserved. The transfer lengths for electrons and holes at the graphene gold contact have values as high as 1.6 mu m. However, the interfacial coupling of graphene and gold causes local temperature drops of up to 500 K in operating electronic devices.