The longtime Hereford House owner was convicted yesterday of arson, conspiring to burn down the iconic downtown steakhouse in October of 2008. The jury decided that Rod hired two men to do the arson, while he was out of town.
All in order to collect over $2 million in insurance money.
Rod was broke, his restaurant – once a Kansas City landmark – had long been failing. The Hereford House on 20th street in the Crossroads District was simply way past its prime.
Anderson had tried several other locations including in Johnson County, The Union Station, Lawrence – and even Westport a few years back. His face graced many an ad in magazines, newspapers and online. Always in a clean white shirt, tie and smiling, Rod seemed the perfect host, boasting one of KC’s finest steak outings.
He was pleasant and seemed to be a hard working, sharp guy. Likable to say the least. So I was quite sad to see this once honored restauranter end up going to prison.
For many people who read about it in the newspaper or heard it on television news, it’s just another odd crime committed by a well known local name. His resume for being a community player is nearly endless – he was even RESTAURATEUR OF THE YEAR in 1997 and he won a the Hotel and Motel Association of Greater Kansas City awarded him its Hospitality Leadershiper award in 2001. His employees speak highly of him as being giving and fair – a hard working owner.
What did Rod in was simply time.
It got by him and many others who are independent restaurant or nightclub owners today. Nearly all the big names are corporate today. The local little guy has a steep hill to climb. Most privately owned food joints last only 2-5 years, nightclubs far less.
Like my dad used to say, ” In this business you won’t find too many guys living in Hallbrook.”
I can relate to the nightmare Rod went through for four years waiting to hear that guilty verdict.
I’ve lived it myself. The sleepless nights, the “Why did I even think about doing that?’ – the pain you handed to your family. It’s a living hell.
Now part two starts: Prison…when will I get out? Who will be waiting for me? What will I do in the future having been locked up all those years. The worst part of it is that Rod will be in his late senior years when that happens. Today he’s 59.
Of course you’re thinking, “Hey he got what he deserved. And I understand your feelings. I also look at the real damage. In the end, like too many high profile non violent crimes, the only one truly injured is the person who made the bad decision. Sure in a fire someone can get hurt – nobody did in this case – just the men going to prison.
We live in terrible economic times and Anderson is yet another victim of those times.
He made a horrible decision, a very bad move. He never got a dime, he had to take bankruptcy for everything he had.
What he did was wrong, no question. Sometimes, and I hope the court does this, you have to take into consideration the rest of the person’s life, the good he did for so many others. A man who was losing everything he’d worked so hard to build, got desperate and did a stupid thing.
Again, Rod and I were not friends, I didn’t know him well. But I know enough to feel badly for him and his family. All he’s thinking about today is, “If I could just turn back time.