News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 18, 2013

Valentine’s dinner 18 years in the making

Valley steakhouse honors gift certificate from 1995

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

ROSEDALE — As a long-time Terre Haute business owner, Morgan Lidster knows the importance of honoring his promises.

That’s why he at least wanted to find out whether the Rod and Gun Steakhouse in Rosedale would honor a gift certificate for dinner-for-two he uncovered recently in his home — from 1995.

“Our gift cards never expire,” Lidster said of cards from his business, Inland Aquatics. So he feels it’s important for other businesses to do the same.

Lidster called the Rod and Gun and spoke with Bill Johnson, who manages the business with Brenda Johnson.

Would the long-time Wabash Valley restaurant honor the certificate?

Johnson’s answer was, “Yes, come on up and have Valentine’s Day dinner on us,” Lidster said.

“I just thought it was a great thing that these guys were willing to honor this, no questions asked,” Lidster said.

The Rod and Gun Steakhouse, formerly known as the Spring Brook Rod and Gun Club, is one of the Wabash Valley’s most historic eateries. Hidden near the Wabash River west of Rosedale, it was once known as a secluded hideaway for Chicago gangsters, politicians and others seeking alcohol, gambling and private dining rooms.

“I pretty much feel, if you make a commitment, that’s it,” said Bob Johnson, who still owns the property but leaves the day-to-day management to his son and niece. The “dinner-for-two” certificate was part of a donation to a Hospice of the Wabash Valley holiday celebration, he recalled.

Gift certificates are a growing part of U.S. retail business, accounting for about $110 billion in sales in 2012, according to CEB TowersGroup, which studies gift card sales. Some states prohibit gift cards from expiring — such as Illinois since 2008 — but many, such as Indiana, do not.

A 2009 federal law requires all U.S. retail gift cards to remain redeemable for at least five years.

This wasn’t the first time the Rod and Gun Steakhouse has honored a gift certificate that had collected more-than-its-share of dust. Some certificates have been three or four years old when they’ve been redeemed, Johnson said. But none has been nearly 18 years old.

“I think that was the oldest one,” he said of Lidster’s.

As for the Valentine’s Day meal, Jamie Higgins, who actually discovered the gift certificate in one of Lidster’s old files, said she and Lidster both ordered steaks and they were delicious.

“They were fantastic,” Higgins said, noting she and Lidster consider themselves “foodies,” so they don’t use such words lightly.

And honoring the old promise will also pay off for the Rod and Gun Steakhouse in repeat business, it seems.

“The atmosphere is fantastic,” Higgins said. “We’ll definitely go back.”

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@trib