“American Restoration”, also known as “Kings of Restoration” in Europe and UK, is a popular reality TV series, which aired on History Channel for seven seasons from 2010 through 2016. The show mainly focused on the staff of the antique shop, Rick’s Restorations, with the main star being the shop’s owner and founder, Rick Dale. “American Restoration” is the first spin-off from “Pawn Stars”, in which Rick had previously appeared numerous times, as an expert in restoring various possibly valuable items. “American Restoration” cast included Rick, his wife Kelly, their sons Brettly and Tyler, Rick’s brother Ron, and other employees at their shop. It also featured cameo appearances from the cast of its parent series, “Pawn Stars”, and other History Channel shows such as “Counting Cars” and “American Pickers”, often giving their expert opinion, while other guest stars included celebrities such as David Copperfield, Greg Biffle and Billy Joel.
The cast of the show was changed completely in 2015, and instead of Rick’s Restorations being the main focus of the series, season seven centered on five different restoration shops located across the US. This move by History Channel producers was highly controversial, and left many of the series’ fans wondering what had happened with the old cast.
Before “American Restoration” hit the TV screens, History Channel made waves with their popular reality series “Pawn Stars”, which started airing in 2009. The series had a unique premise, centering on a father and son who operate a pawn shop in Las Vegas, Nevada. One of the early stars of the show was certainly Rick Dale, who often appeared as a restoration expert, and noticing his popularity, History Channel gave him his own show, “American Restoration”.
It was certainly a smart move – Rick Dale had already been in the restoration business for more than 30 years; in fact, not only was it his line of work, but he’d been repairing things for practically his whole life.
Before opening his own restoration shop in the early 1980s, Rick ran a construction business, which wasn’t very successful, and he struggled to make the ends meet. Around that time, he stumbled across a Coke vending machine, which he repaired himself and sold on the flee market for a decent profit. This inspired Rick to continue restoring old machines and furniture, quite successfully, so in 1993 he closed his construction business and opened a restoration workshop, however, business went slowly for a while.
This changed in 2007, when he married his second wife Kelly, who inspired him to continue doing the things he loved, while she would take care of the business side of things, including marketing. As Rick’s business grew, he was approached by “Pawn Stars” producers who wanted him to pawn a gas tank he had listed for sale. Rick wasn’t really interested in the said deal, but offered to become an on-screen expert in restoration. After a successful screening, he was brought onto the show, and so became a TV star.
When he was later offered his own show, Rick was initially reluctant to accept, thinking that he wouldn’t have enough material for even just one season. ‘I only knew how to restore like five different pieces, and a show has twenty-six episodes. I figured I’d be done after about five.’, he said in an interview he gave for the Sioux City Journal. However, after the first season, Rick started to feel more confident in his skills, and the show went much further than a single season.
Apart from the business, “American Restoration” also focused on the relationships between the Dale family members. Rick’s eldest son, Tyler is a prominent star of show; he has been helping his parents in the shop since the age of two, although Rick often criticized him for being lazy, and talked about being worried if Tyler would ever, one day, be able to run the business on his own, assuming that’s what he wanted to do.
Rick was also helped by his younger brother Ron, who primarily worked as a picker, which means that he was the one seeking and acquiring items to be repaired or restored at the store. Ironically, Rick often stated that he felt his brother was one of the most difficult employees to manage, due to his poor work ethic and being rather slow to finish his work.
Another prominent member of the cast was Kevin Lowery, aka Kowboy, who did metal polishing at Rick’s shop. He was noticeably grumpy, and was portrayed as having s short temper. Apparently, this wasn’t just a shtick for TV, as some fans have talked about their unpleasant experiences when meeting him in real life.
Rick’s step-son Brettly, seemed to be much more laid back, and often provided comic relief. As an employee, he was usually delegated to do the most tedious tasks, because of his perceived ineptitude, but later proved to be an excellent picker.
Why did the cast change?
During its run, “American Restorations” became almost as successful and popular as its parent series “Pawn Stars”, with the cast generally beloved by the audience. Therefore, when the show’s producers chose to drop the staff of Rick’s Restoration from the series, it came as a huge shock to fans. It was difficult to imagine that a seemingly wholesome family business could have a behind-the-scenes beef with their network, but that’s reportedly what happened. Apparently, Rick Dale and the History Channel team had several disagreements about the creative direction the show should take, which eventually resulted in Rick and his family being cut from the show entirely. In addition, some reports stated that Rick had become quite difficult to work with, and with ratings dropping somewhat, the network didn’t see any other solution to the problem.
Neither Rick not History Channel have ever provided a full explanation for what happened, but whatever it may be, Rick was certainly not happy about his firing. Not long after leaving the show, he posted a YouTube video in which he cried and thanked hfans for watching the show. In the same video, he also asked them to visit the official “American Restoration” website and voice their displeasure about the cast change. There was even a petition on the Change.org website, launched by an annoyed fan who wanted to see the old cast back, but it failed to reach its goal, and was completely ignored by History Channel.
The showrunners moved on, and season seven of “American Restoration” featured a whole new cast of five other family-owned restoration businesses, which included the owners and staff of Bodie Stroud Industries, Wheels Through Time, Monkey Business, Steve’s Restorations and Bob’s Garage.
This proved to be an unpopular move, however, and the series was officially cancelled after the season concluded.
However, it appears that History Channel producers have since warmed to Rick Dale again, as he appeared in an episode of “Pawn Stars” in 2020, after a seven-year-long break, but it’s still rather unlikely that “American Restoration” could be rebooted.
Where are they now?
Even though “American Restoration” came to an end six years ago, it’s seeing regular reruns and is available on several streaming platforms, so Rick and his family are still reaping the benefits of the show’s success. Although the original Rick’s Restorations shop has been shut down, the family is now operating another store in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is open for visitors and tours.
Members of the original cast haven’t starred in any new shows since “American Restoration” concluded in 2016, which means their fans don’t really know what they’re up to nowadays. Rick is still active on social media, showing off his new projects, and has a YouTube account called The Ideas Factory Studios, onto which he uploads videos of himself restoring vintage items, in a similar manner to his old show.
Rick has also opened a custom laser-cut and embroidery shop in Las Vegas, which sells various merchandise including Christmas ornaments, home décor, T-shirts and more. Furthermore, he’s published a book about restoration, entitled ‘Classic Soda Machines’.
Rick’s wife Kelly still helps him run his businesses, but has found success on her own as well, as a real estate agent. Their son, Tyler, is still in the restoration business, mainly working on restoring vintage trucks, as revealed by his Instagram account, while his brother Brettly has set up his own business called Clean Works Blasting, which offers cleaning and paint-stripping services.
Although the alleged fight between Rick Dale and the “American Restoration” showrunners which resulted in his firing remains the show’s biggest scandal, there were quite a few other issues happening behind the scenes.
Rick’s Restorations had a solid reputation before the series started airing, however, their image became tainted as the show progressed.
Apparently, doing quality work has proven to be difficult while simultaneously filming a reality TV show, and some customers took to social media to complain about shoddy reparation work done by the Rick’s Restorations staff. Fans have pointed out that, for example, in an episode involving a McCulloch Go Kart, one can clearly notice that the tires hadn’t been properly mounted, which resulted in wobbly movement of the kart, while other noticed chipped paint in some other projects. It’s also been noted by customers that Rick Dale has been overcharging for his work since his shop was featured on TV. According to sources, Angel Delgadillo, who appeared on the show and agreed to let the filming take place in his memorabilia shop, was particularly enraged when he paid more than $4,000 for his old jukebox to be restored, only to receive it back two months later in non-working condition.
On the other hand, Rick has noted that once his shop became more well-known, customers have started bringing in things in increasingly worse shape. ‘I think all the good stuff is done.
The stuff people bring in now is testing me.’, he said in an interview with the website “The Spruce”. ‘After 30 years in this business, I learn something new every day’, he added. He has also talked about how keeping a normal, standard delivery schedule to clients has become very difficult ‘The production crew would want us to stop fabricating because they were recording one of us talking, and they didn’t want the background noise’, Rick explained. In addition, as the show became more and more popular, clients and even fans would show up at Rick and Kelly’s house unannounced.
Fans of the show have also been complaining about the public tour offered of Rick’s Restorations new shop in Las Vegas, which has prompted negative reviews on websites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. According to visitors, there are two versions of the tour; one that costs $5 apparently lasts only 10 minutes, and grants little more than access to the gift shop.
The other tour costs $50, but doesn’t offer a lot more; fans who pay for it may enter the shop, take photos, and see some items being restored, but the tour isn’t guided, and if you want to take a picture with anyone from the cast, you must pay an additional $25.
Is “American Restoration” fake?
Just like any other reality TV show “American Restoration”, often has to rely on the power of scripting and editing to make certain moments stand out. While the work shown the series is legitimate, plotlines are often created in advance, and scenes which took hours to film may be reduced to mere minutes, understandable when satisfying episode time constraints.
One first-hand example of this came from Howie Cohen, a high school teacher who repairs neon signs as a hobby. He was approached to appear in an episode for the seventh season, and according to him, his scene was filmed twice, once in July, and then again in November. This sounds even stranger, considering the fact that he first filmed a ‘reveal’ of the finished project, and then five months later was asked to come back to talk about the project as if it hadn’t even been started.
Strange happenings in restoration overall, and Rick’s Restorations, “American Restoration” in particular!