b66obi1P Heart Attack Grill 1
Heart Attack Grill 1

Heart attack burgers stop the traffic

The Golden Arches of the McDonalds burger chain are a welcome sight for many a hungry motorist.

But you’ll have to travel to Las Vegas to find the hamburger of your dreams, or perhaps that’s nightmares.

McDonalds may be the biggest burger brand in the world, but spare a thought for the aptly-named Heart Attack Grill.

A flourishing burger joint with a menu that’s a killer in its literal sense, it has the stats and cremated remains of a dead customer to prove it.

America has a population of some 330 million people and the hamburger is the country’s unofficial national dish.

Each year the US Department of Agriculture reveals Americans eat a staggering 50 billion burgers.

Correct. 50 billion.

Since its opening in 2005 in Tempe, Arizona, the Heart Attack Grill has been wriggling in a sea of scandals, but has somehow made a name for itself by turning death into a joke. 

As weird is the fact that Jon Basso, the chap who owns it, was in the fitness business before starting the glutton-embracing restaurant, which he moved to Vegas in 2011.

Now recommended caloric intakes vary widely for each person, depending on age, weight, height, gender, activity level, and other factors, but it generally ranges from 1600 to 3000 calories per day. 

However, the Heart Attack Grill’s menu lists some creations that run close to 20,000 calories and in more than a few cases customers have needed to make a 911 call.

The place even holds a Guinness World Record for the World’s Most Calorific Burger.

Heart Attack Grill 1


Here’s what Basso says of his restaurant: “We promote nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, fat, cholesterol, sodium – all the building blocks of a quality, healthy good time.”

It all came about after he became disillusioned with the fitness business.

He owned and operated several gyms and weight loss centres, but as the years went by, he became bitter and resentful toward the industry. 

“Instead of being a slimy, crooked, dishonest peddler of health and fitness services, which I was, promising anybody who would pay me any type of miraculous results if they followed my advice and did physical exercise, I would actually launch a hamburger concept that would be absolutely honest,” he said.

For Basso, honesty meant a burger chain with extreme menu items and a hospital theme that he says are an intervention for people who are obese. 

The excessive menu items attract people and the media, which is exactly what he wants. 

The Heart Attack Grill’s menu features massive burgers that range from a standard size Single Bypass Burger to an Octuple Bypass Burger, which contains 2kg  of meat, 40 pieces of bacon, chilli and cheese — for a grand total of 19,900 calories.

And the Flatliner Fries are deep-fried in pure lard and covered in chilli and cheese. 

For people who aren’t interested in burgers or fries, the grill offers Butterfat Shakes — in strawberry, chocolate, or vanilla. 

They’re made of butterfat cream and come with a slide of butter on top. and the restaurant claims they contain the world’s highest butterfat content of any food or beverage available in an eating establishment.

Customers can choose to indulge in vices other than food.

Liquor options include wine served in IV bags that come with a stand and gelatin shots, either from prescription bottles or in syringes for mouth injection.

“Monster” shots are 3.4 ounces (120ml) — roughly double a a standard shot.

In line with the restaurant’s theme, beer choices include Blonde Nurse, Dark Nurse, Red Nurse or Bald Doctor.

Unfiltered cigarettes are available for adults, and candy cigarettes for children.

The restaurant’s motto is “a taste worth dying for,” a theme that becomes evident as soon as patrons enter.

In a macabre concept of marketing, it displays the cremated remains of a past customer who died there while eating.

Scantily clad girls dressed as  nurses provide customers with hospital gowns and wristbands they must wear while eating at the restaurant.

Taking a customer’s order is a “procedure,” and the food is a “prescription.” 

Jon Basso dons a white coat and stethoscope and refers to himself as Dr Jon, the Chief Surgeon of Heart Attack Grill.

The Heart Attack Grill has several rules in place for customers.

First and foremost is that patrons who weigh more than 350 pounds (158kg) get to eat free, as long as they agree to be weighed to confirm their weight.

The weighing is done on a cattle scale in the restaurant in front of all the other customers.

Those who don’t qualify can take part in a challenge. 

The Quadruple Bypass Burger Challenge dares patrons to eat the entire burger, which is composed of 2.1kg of meat, three tablespoons of lard, 20 slices of bacon, eight slices of American cheese, 20 slices of caramelised onion baked in lard, eight tomato slices, one tablespoon of mayonnaise, two tablespoons of ketchup and one tablespoon of mustard. 

Those who manage to eat the whole thing are escorted out of the restaurant in a wheelchair by one of the staff.

If they fail, they are spanked in front of other guests.

Despite the massive portion sizes, no sharing is allowed.

In 2011, Blair “Gentle Giant” River died of pneumonia at age 29. Considered a Heart Attack Grill spokesperson, he weighed around 575 pounds (260kg) at the time of his death. 

Two years later, 52-year-old John Alleman suffered a heart attack outside the restaurant.

He was not an official spokesman for the restaurant, but his image was used around the establishment, and he was a frequent customer. 

In February 2012, a man eating a Triple Bypass Burger began sweating and suffering from chest pains. He told the servers he wasn’t feeling well, but initially they thought he was joking.

In fact, he was having a heart attack while eating a burger that included a pound and a half (0.7kg) of meat with buns dipped in lard, half of an onion cooked in lard, a whole tomato, 15 pieces of bacon, cheese, and special sauce. The burger clocks in at around 6000 calories.

Basso believed the guy was joking before eventually calling for help. Paramedics took the man to a hospital, where he recovered.

A few months later, another customer fell victim to a similar medical issue while eating a Double Bypass Burger.

She was also smoking a cigarette and drinking a margarita.

The Heart Attack Grill has drawn criticism from various groups of people ever since its opening.

But Basso replied: “The grill is where you can be yourself. We accept people as they are. Alleman’s death isn’t going to stop us from what we’re doing. People have got to live their lives.”

Jon Basso has never lied about his business or the inherent dangers of the food his establishment serves.

He has also never issued any apologies to anyone who suffered health crises at the Heart Attack Grill. 

Instead, he said death equalled business at the Heart Attack Grill. 

“Will it please me if other spokesmen die in the future? Absolutely,” he said..

“If people pondered what I’m doing, they’d realise I’m creating a mockery of this. 

“On the one hand, I could try to defend myself ethically and call myself a crusader that’s trying to wake up America and conduct an intervention on obesity.

“That’s half true. The other half is I’m an entrepreneur trying to make a buck, plain and simple.”

Meanwhile, business is boomed and Basso hasn’t spent much money on advertising.

He lets his critics (and supporters) do it for him, operating on the principle that no press is bad press.

Oh, let’s not forget the Heart Attack Grill’s voicemail message:

‘The Heart Attack Grill diet is not for everyone. Side effects may include sudden weight gain, repeated increase in wardrobe size, back pain, male breast growth, loss of sexual partners, lung cancer, tooth decay, liver sclerosis, stroke, and an inability to see your penis. In some cases, mild death may occur.”

Bon appetit.


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