MP body shop celebrates 75 years

Patrick Restaino wasn’t even paying attention to the fact that his Rhinelander Auto Body Ltd. was about to celebrate a major milestone—the shop’s 75th anniversary.

A friend convinced him it was too important of an anniversary to pass up.

Restaino’s too busy having fun as the second generation of the seasoned Morris Park shop specializing in restoring banged up cars to pristine condition.

On top of a crash correction, Rhinelander Auto Body prides itself on color coating, erasing scratches and smears with a fresh layer of paint.

As Restaino puts it, bodywork is a work of art.

“I don’t even know of a business that takes this type of workmanship to produce a product,” said Restaino, who strives to add a personal touch to each vehicle entering his shop. “We give each customer personal service.”

Restaino acknowledged his anniversary as a staple in the neighborhood, heading to Borough Hall to pick up a citation from Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., the second recognition from Borough Hall. The first happened 15 years ago when Rhinelander Auto Body Ltd. passed the 60-year benchmark.

The business stretches back to 1938 when Lincoln, Chevy and Ford muscle cars were in vogue.

Restaino, a Bronx native built like a truck, began working alongside his dad in the shop in his early teens, witnessing his dad at work. Like father like son, Restaino and his cousin Raymond inherited the shop from his dad and uncle Nick in 1978 following the elder Restaino’s passing.

“My father was very similar to myself,” said Restaino. “He wanted to satisfy everyone.”

Shadowing his dad for years, Restaino climbed into the small business driver’s seat with ease at the shop, which sits on Rhinelander Avenue just by White Plains Road.

“We more than doubled the footprint of the business,” said Restaino. “The business is strong if not stronger than it’s ever been.”

Much of Restaino’s success lies in tradecraft, where a team of body mechanics carefully reconstruct dozens of vehicles on any given month.

Besides neighborhood locals, a steady steam of clients such as Home Depot, Best Buy and pharmaceutical-owned vehicles have now regularly done business with Rhinelander Auto Body.

He’s also partnered with insurance providers such as Hartford Insurance and Ameriprise/Costco Insurance to repair vehicles insured under them.

“The technicians are terrific,” said Restaino. “And people are satisfied. Most of them come out of here saying, ‘I’m going to recommend you, this was the best experience.’”

As Restaino quietly celebrates his moment, he shows no signs of stopping his business.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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