BYE-BYE ALBERT REDUX • Just like El Hombre himself, Pujols 5 is a thing of the past, the restaurant's owner, Patrick Hanon, said today.
Answering the phone at the West Port Plaza restaurant with the greeting "Hall of Fame Grill," Hanon said the changeover had been in the works the past three weeks and took effect today.
"We've changed our name but we haven't changed our chef or our layout or any of the other good things that people like about us," Hanon noted.
The full name of the new restaurant is the Hall of Fame Sports Bar and Grill. Greg Marecek, founder of the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame, is collaborating with Hanon on the new image for the restaurant and letting him decorate with artifacts from the Hall of Fame collection.
Hanon said Albert Pujols never had an ownership position in the restaurant, but got a percentage of the sales and agreed to appear there a number of times throughout the year in exchange for the use of his name.
"We are on great terms," Hanon said of he and Pujols. "I'm wishing him success and he's wishing us success."
Hanon said some memorabilia linked to the former Cards first baseman would remain in the restaurant.
"Albert's a good guy and a lot of people here still like him," he noted. "I think after some time has passed people will realize that what he did was the best for him and for the Cardinals.
"I don't think it was about the money," he offered, regarding Pujols decision to leave St. Louis for Los Angeles. "I think it was about the years."
Hanon added that as far as he's concerned, the statue of Pujols that was sculpted by noted artist Harry Weber and installed outside of his restaurant in November can stay.
The statue was commissioned by an anonymous donor and is the property of the Pujols Family Foundation, which has an office at West Port.