A taste worth dying for? Las Vegas 'Heart Attack Grill' lives up to its name
Nikhil Kumar is The Independent's New York correspondent. He was formerly assistant editor on the foreign desk and has also done a variety of jobs on the city desk, where he wrote about markets, commodities and other business and economics topics.
Wednesday 13 February 2013
When two diners collapsed last year while indulging themselves at The Heart Attack Grill – a Las Vegas eatery featuring delicacies such as the Double, Triple and Quadruple Bypass burgers – John Alleman was not fazed.
The local security guard who became the joint’s unofficial spokesman faithfully maintained a daily ritual of greeting patrons at the medically-themed restaurant. Now he’s dead – and I bet you can guess how.
The 52-year-old suffered a heart attack last week while waiting at the bus stop outside the restaurant and earlier this week his life support machine was turned off, according to a post on the Grill’s Facebook page.
Although he was never on the restaurant’s payroll, his daily visits and efforts to rope in new customers led the owners to commemorate him with his very own caricature on the menu – called “Patient John”.
The grill prides itself on producing unhealthy meals. To complement the range of Bypass Burgers, the menu offers the so-called Flatliner Fries, “deep fried in pure lard”, and butterfat milkshakes. In April last year, the restaurant’s Quadruple Bypass burger claimed the Guinness World Record for the “most calorific burger”. It boasts a total of 9,982 calories – almost four times the recommended daily intake for a man, and five for a woman.
In case the point was lost on anyone, the restaurant’s website offers a tongue-in-cheek “Diet Programme”.
“Doctors agree that continually cycling body weight up and down is one of the very worst things a person can do to themselves.
“That’s why our programme is focused upon keeping your weight in an extremely stable, gradual, and constant upward slope,” it says.
Staff at the restaurant dress like medical professionals, while diners wear hospital gowns. At the head of the enterprise is Jon Basso, known as “Dr Jon” – who in various pictures on the Grill’s Facebook page is seen donning a medical coat and a stethoscope.
“He lived a very full life. He will be missed,” Mr Basso said when asked about Mr Alleman’s death by the Las Vegas Sun. “He lived, ate and breathed Heart Attack Grill.” Although he said that Mr Alleman’s death was a “wake-up call”, he has no plans on introducing a lighter menu. “The grill is where you can be yourself. We accept people as they are,” Mr Basso said. “[Alleman’s death] isn’t going to stop us from doing what we’re doing”.
Last February, a male diner reportedly collapsed after suffering an apparent heart attack, an incident which was repeated in April when a woman eating a Double Bypass burger collapsed at the downtown restaurant.
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