Albert Pujols won't partner in a St. Louis restaurant anymore, either. (Getty)It was a culinary paradox: How could a Missouri sports bar and grill named for slugger Albert Pujols continue to exist after he departed the beloved St. Louis Cardinals for the dreaded West Coast via free agency?
Answer: It couldn't. The Pujols 5 Westport Grill is being renamed. John Marecek, a sports talk radio host on KTRS in St. Louis, had the scoop on Twitter on Wednesday night:
Pujols 5 Restaurant to be re-branded the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame Bar and Grill. Expect an announcement tomorrow #stlcards
The hambre (hungry) Hombre himself soon issued a statement on the matter, which Marecek also passed along:
Pujols: "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"
And just like that (along with $254 million) he was gone.
Because he works in Albert's new domain covering the Los Angeles Angels, blogger Sam Miller of the Orange County Register quickly spotted the Pujols-related tweets. Miller addressed the two obvious issues:
• What are they really going to call the restaurant now? The "St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame Bar and Grill"? Sheesh, your dinner is cold by the time you're done pronouncing it all.
• What are they going to do with the huge statue of Albert out in front of the joint?
Sam had some great ideas for a reboot, especially "Appreciate What You Had!" — but I got it. I have solved the problem. Just call me the problem-solving wizard, if you will.
Unless you're from St. Louis or just a rabid Cardinals fan (what is the bird equivalent of rabies?), you probably don't know that Cardinals legend Ozzie Smith also operated a sports bar and grill in the same plaza. It was open for something like 25 years (an eternity in the restaurant business) before it closed in 2009.
All the Hanon family needs to do is make a phone call to Ozzie Smith, and I'll bet the Hall of Famer would get back in the restaurant game. Wouldn't it be nice for him, especially with arch nemesis Tony La Russa out of town? Ozzie could get some closure on his vague estrangement from St. Louis by returning to being a restauranteur.
Update I: Apparently, the Wizard has a new restaurant in downtown St. Louis. Look at this as a chance to return to the suburbs, where it all began!
And what about the statue? Well, it was donated, but if Albert won't pay for UPS to ship it to Orange County, all the Hanons need is to find an enterprising local sculptor with a pick ax and a blow torch and let he or she whittle that baby down into Wizard of Oz proportions. Most of the uniform doesn't have to change. The statue's body just needs to drop 50 pounds of bronze and add a glove, along with a full beard. And do some work on the cheekbones. Chisel the "5" into a "1." And you're done.
Update II: There are no plans to remove the statue at this time. But it doesn't say anything about altering it!
You are welcome, Greater St. Louis restaurant and statue scene.
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