The owner of Uncle Bill's Pancake House on Manchester Road had just emptied the safe at the restaurant when authorities said he was kidnapped and robbed around 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
The crime happened in the restaurant while it was open for business with other employees and patrons in the building.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the owner's name is Richard Lee, of Creve Coeur. At this time, the restaurant is not commenting on the incident.
"The victim was approached in the rear hallway at the back of the business," Manchester Police Captain Charles Hunn tells Town and Country - Manchester Patch.
The two male assailants came in through a back door that Hunn said the restaurant leaves open and unlocked.
"He had just emptied the safe from the weekend's receipts. Had them all in his hand in a small cardboard box, when he was approached in the hallway...pepper sprayed him, knocked his glasses off and forced him out the back door into his own vehicle. Then they pepper sprayed him again," Hunn explained.
The two suspects then reportedly told Lee to "keep his head down" and drove him to St. Louis City. One of the suspects drove Lee's car while the other sat in the backseat with him, police said. They finally stopped at Boardman Street and Shaw Avenue, near Interstate 44, and left Lee and his car there, according to Hunn. However, they pepper sprayed him one last time before the two suspects fled.
"They exited the vehicle, left the victim there. They took the money, receipts and his walled. He was not injured otherwise, other than being pepper sprayed," Hunn explained. "Then a passerby saw that he was in distress, stopped, helped him, flushed his eyes with water and dialed 911."
Hunn said St. Louis police showed up and contacted Manchester authorities who are now heading up the investigation.
Investigators tell Patch a gun was never displayed or indicated during the incident.
Police are not commenting on if, or how, the suspects knew Lee would be emptying the safe at that time. They are only saying this is an "active investigation" as they collect evidence and search for the two suspects.
"The pepper spray is the weapon. When people take money from you by force, it's a robbery. The weapon is the pepper spray," Hunn tells Patch. "You've got a robbery. You've got a kidnapping. You've got a victim assaulted with pepper spray. It's an active investigation at this time."
Patch could not reach the Lees for comment Monday.
Anyone with information on this crime is asked to contact the at 636-527-9200.
Anonymous tips can be made to the St. Louis Regional CrimeStoppers at 866-317-TIPS (8477).