For fans of the Las Vegas-based reality show “Pawn Stars“, you know of the spin-off called “American Restoration.” It’s about the egotistical owner (Rick Dale) who tries to restore clients’ busted or broken memorabilia back to near new conditions for what seems like outrageous prices. I’m figuring the clients willingly pay the price hoping for their chance at 15 minutes of fame on the show.
In one case, the client did not need the 15 minutes of fame, he has enough of his own. Instead, the client just wanted what the show’s star was promising: A sentimental piece of memorabilia to be restored to working order. Only to be taken to the cleaners and causing anxiety for those who know the whole story.
Ripping Off the Angel of Route 66
Last August, while I was on a Grand Canyon tour, like most times, I make a stop in Seligman, Arizona. Home to the man who saved Route 66. That man is also someone I am proud to call my friend, Angel Delgadillo (aka The Angel of Route 66). On this stop, I encountered reality TV star Rick Dale and his American Restoration crew setting up to shoot an episode at Angel’s store.
Rick, being the smart businessman that he appears to be, saw an opportunity. His producers convinced Angel to shut his memorabilia shop down for a promised one hour time frame to shoot a scene. It was at the height of the tourism season. This is when Angel and the other businesses on Route 66 make their money for the year. Angel being Angel, was nice and accommodated the request. To close up shop and turn away business for “one hour”. The one-hour shoot ended up lasting over four hours!
Angel is 85 years young and the famous store was once his pool hall and barbershop. In the back corner sat a 1950’s style jukebox that had a bad restoration attempt earlier in its life. Angel wanted it restored to working condition. To light up and play all the old favorites for his international guests as they entered the store. Rick said he could do it. Not a problem. For $4,000 (plus whatever business Angel lost while shooting the now popular episode).
Almost two months later, the jukebox was finally returned to Angel, looking pretty classy, but not functioning properly. Angel was still smiling at his guests as they looked it over. But since it isn’t working, it once again sits in a corner of the store, unplugged, gathering dust as before.
Almost a year later, the $4,000 check has been cashed and Rick has yet to do anything to get the jukebox working as he promised or to even return the phone calls and letters asking (politely) for some remediation in this situation.
Angel being Angel, never said a bad word about the incident or the lost business. But I knew it bothered him.
Angel is The Angel
If all Angel wanted was the chrome polished and the plastic cover cleaned I’m sure he could have had one of his kids do it for less than $4,000. He simply wants to see it play again as promised. So do the fans of Rick’s show and fans of Angel who pour into his store each day from all over the world asking about it.
To Rick’s good fortune, Angel is a peace-loving man and when someone asks about the jukebox, Angel smiles and says nothing about the fact that Rick’s Restoration had done him wrong. Angel is in a good position, with people from all over the world stopping into his store daily, he could really turn this into a public relations nightmare for Rick and the show. Instead, he stays quiet about it. and smiles.
Rick could do the honorable thing and fulfill his obligation to Angel. Fix the jukebox or return some of the money he was paid. This would let Angel promote the fact that Rick did indeed stick to his word and get it playing again just as Angel expected of him when they shook hands on the deal the year before.
It’s Marketing, Stupid
This is the part I don’t understand. If for nothing else but the marketing aspect, you would think Rick would have done this project for free or at least at a heavy discount and made it a priority for his shop to complete it and to do a first-class job on the restoration. Angel doesn’t need the publicity. American Restoration and Rick Dale need the publicity. Angel could have provided him with plenty of free publicity to a worldwide audience if he had just kept to his word.
You would have thunk that the History Channel, the network airing American Restoration, would have wanted this issue settled or not to even be an issue. They could have used it for a great marketing piece as well. To promote the show and the network with a great tie-in to two American icons; Route 66 and Angel Delgadillo. But Nope! Instead, Dale got greedy (or is greedy by nature) he screwed up and missed the bigger picture in his chase for the quick buck and a fast score.
A lost opportunity for all involved.
This opinion post was written by me for general information. Yes, I am pissed at all that happened here. Angel and his family are business friends of mine. My tours often stop at his store and I do make money from that stop. My guests love the unexpected side stop, meeting Angel, and stepping foot on historic Route 66. In return, my tips increase.
More importantly, as a friend to Angel and his family as well as a business, I would like to see the old jukebox working again, as would the 1000’s of people from all over the world who stop in at Angel’s Route 66 Gift Shop every day. That particular episode is often played and Rick is making the money from it. He could do the right thing and fix what he promised while making it a great PR story that he seems to crave.
In return, I am sure Angel would be happy and would be kind enough to pass the word on about the nice man behind the jukebox restoration while he lets them drop a nickel in the slot and hear an American music classic play. I also know a few other tour professionals who would do this as well!
Update: 11/11/2020: Ricks Restoration, as well as the show, all seem to be offline, not operating, in hiatus. No news on what Rick Dale is doing nowadays.