The El Rey Club, Searchlight, NV

The El Rey Club, Searchlight, NV
The El Rey Resort & Casino, Circa 1957-1962

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Questions Answered Part 2: American Restoration

Many thanks again to those who have watched the show.  Whether it was the original airing on TV, a rerun, or from an online source, it means the world to me that you checked it out and helped spread the word.Speaking of spreading the word, I'm targeting the mighty Stephens Press, which specializes in Nevada/Las Vegas-centric books (and owns the Las Vegas Review Journal) as the best hope for the book finding a publisher.  I still have queries and proposals out all over the country, but these folks look like the likeliest of candidates.  If you wouldn't mind sending an email to them wondering why they can't find my book on their list of titles, or mention that you saw this fascinating story on This History Channel and was hoping to be able to buy the book...every little bit helps!The email for Stephens Press is

Moving on...It seems that I didn't answer quite all of the questions with my last note, or perhaps I sparked new ones.  Either way I have received quite a few others and I offer answers to those most asked questions.
  • Is Rick Nice?
I can say with all honesty that Rick, Kelly, Ron, Kowboy (yes, even Kowboy) and everyone I met at Rick's Restorations was extremely nice to me and very professional people.  The crew members working for The History Channel were also very kind and professional people.

What struck me the most was how INTO the El Rey story they all were, particularly Rick.  Everyone loved the El Rey facts I was spouting off, my personal involvement with the story, and how I came to own this sign.  It was stressed to me that it isn't often that they get to profile something on the show with more than sentimental value and love to work on something with historical significance.  Rick was quick to point out that it was something of a rare treat for them to not having to bring something back to showroom perfection.  They really enjoyed the challenge to restore something, but make it retain some of the character that comes with age.  Even though the patina of antiquity may be lost with the sanding and the painting, this particular restoration was more about bringing history back to life and everyone seemed pleased, if not honored to be a part of it. 

  • Do You Think the Price ($2500) was Fair?
At first I was a bit shocked by the price, but when I brought it in I thought it was just "wood and paint."  Of course, I'm not in Rick's line of work and I do not work with my hands (juggling not withstanding).  When he told me the price I was reminded of how many times I have quoted someone a price for my shows and then had to explain that if the customer could spin plates and eat fire they could do the work themselves.  What you didn't see (among many things) was that Rick actually quoted me two price options.  One was what you saw on TV and the other was for a less expensive route (about $1800).  Why did I choose the more expensive option?  The work being done the less expensive way simply wasn't what I wanted.  It would have made it showroom perfect, replacing the original metal with new sheet metal, newer stock wood, newer hardware and a noticeably un-weathered paint job.  It simply wouldn't have looked right nor would it have retained any of the charm of finding such a rare piece of history in that desert.  Rick and his team took an artist's approach to this restoration and I really respect that a lot.There were a LOT of man-hours put into that sign and damn near all the work was done by hand.  The paint work/lettering alone was all done by hand (as you saw on TV) and I was told just matching up the letters to the original was a REAL CHALLENGE given how faded the original was.  The sign's metal was too thin to be sand-blasted and everything was done by hand.  Finding aged redwood was neither easy nor inexpensive and the wood work/framing was done in a way to make the sign look as though the thing had been weathered and warped by desert winds and heat.  Add in the "advertising" for my book that the show brought in and I think it was money well spent.  Worth every penny! 

  • Did Rick Really Know That Much About The El Rey Club?
I cannot lay claim to any knowledge of what he did or didn't know prior to my coming in there.  His brother, Ron, knows a lot of people in Searchlight and he knew of the place.  The night before I went out to Rick's for the first time I noticed a lot of activity on my blogs.  All about the El Rey.  The activity came from a HUGE International Property Rights law firm.  The next day Rick was spouting off info and I was surprised to hear he knew so much.  However, some of what he said to me was almost word-for-word from my book.  I would imagine The History Channel prepares Rick for a lot of TV restorations and given that so much of my info is either available online or at the Copyright Office, it would neither surprise me nor bother me in the least to hear he had a little help...particularly if the help actually came from my research, albeit in a circuitous way.  :)

  • What's Standing on the Spot Today Where the El Rey Once Stood?
NOTHING!  It has been a vacant lot since 1962.  One day I hope to own it.  It's for sale right now, but I don't have a spare $300K burning a hole in my pocket.  But I can dream.  I do have plans for that spot.  Stay tuned!

  • Were There People Watching the Taping Other than TV Crew or Rick's Team?
Yes.  Rick's, much like the Silver & Gold Pawn Shop (Home to the Pawn Stars) has become something of a tourist attraction in its own right and both days I was taping there was a large crowd of people around snapping photos.  I imagine I'm in somebody's Vegas scrapbook right now.
  • I Missed the Show.  Can I See it Again?
You didn't see it the first time so technically, NO.  You can't see it "again."  lol  However they replay those shows OFTEN both on the HD channel and the regular channel.  You may wish to check the ON DEMAND menu of your cable/satellite provider.  Up until this afternoon it was available on The American restoration website, but the newest episodes are up there now.  Eventually you can get it on iTunes and I'm sure SOMEWHERE on the web you can find a stream of it.

  • Where is Rick's Restorations and Can I Visit It?
Rick's Restorations is in downtown Las Vegas and it is about a mile away from the Pawn Stars pawn shop and within walking distance of two of my FAVORITE restaurants in town (Lola's Louisiana Kitchen and Bar & Bistro).  Tours are available and it is always fun to go see the place.  Specifically, Rick's Restorations is located at...

1112 S Commerce St.
Las Vegas, NV 89102Their hours are:
Monday - Friday (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
Saturday & Sunday (10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)

They have a website: have a Facebook Page:
They also have a Fan Page on Facebook:

I highly recommend you check them out if in Vegas or simply LIKE them on Facebook.  Feel free to let them know I sent you and tell them how much you liked the work they did on my billboard.

The research & collecting of photos and memorabilia from the El Rey Club never stops! Please contact me at 702-465-5604 or email me at if you have stories or memorabilia to share.

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