Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 2/2/12
ST. LOUIS Continued anger and disappointment from Cardinals fans over the departure of slugger Albert Pujols has forced a St. Louis restaurant bearing his name to part ways. Pat Hanon, owner and founder of Pujols 5 Westport Grill, said Thursday that sales dropped so much in the recent months since the nine-time All-Star left for the Anaheim Angels that he had no choice but to end his association with the slugger. The restaurant's name has changed to the 'St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame Bar and Grill' and will now display authentic sports memorabilia and artifacts currently owned by the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame. "I knew all along that he was a national figure but I never suspected the anger," Hanon said. "I thought the Cubs would be the only one that would have drawn the anger, but quite honestly, the anger was pretty tough here. People started refusing to come into the place to tell you the truth." Contrary to public belief, Pujols was not invested in the company and was merely paid a fee by Hanon for the use of his name. The money - five percent of restaurant profits - was donated to the Pujols Family Foundation. Hanon met with Pujols and his agent to discuss the drop in business, informing the three-time MVP that he had no choice but to part ways in hopes of keeping the restaurant open. "Albert's fine with it, he understands," Hanon said. "I tried for 55 days to weather the storm but sales just kept going nowhere and the hate mail and emails and everything kept pouring in. "The fans were tough. Customers were tough." A 1,100-pound bronze statue of Pujols remains in front of the restaurant. The statue a gift to the Pujols Family Foundation from an anonymous donor rests on land owned by the Westport Plaza complex and not the restaurant. While Hanon has no connection to the statue, his understanding is that the Foundation plans to keep the statue in it's current location despite Pujols being dropped from the restaurant's name. Pujols is quoted in a press release as saying, "I want to wish Pat Sr., Dave, Pat Jr. and the rest of the Hanon family nothing but success and happiness with their new restaurant. They are passionate about what they do and that is why the Hanon's are the best in the business." The restaurant remains open during the transition period.
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