Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Heart Attack Grill Las Vegas! Phat Attack or Fat Attack?

Love eating sumptuous fast food? Then you will love The Heart Attack Grill aptly named for the highly fat and caloric fast food it serves that will give you a cardiac arrest if you make the place a phat habit and chow down menu items on a regular basis.

Restaurant founder, Dr. Jon, Jon Basso, takes on the faux identity of a doctor in a lab coat to promote the restaurant's theme. His waitresses dress in sexy nurse costumes and the restaurant embraces the concept that this is fabulous junk food with "a taste to die for." Basso originated The Heart Attack Grill in Arizona and Texas; restaurants there both have closed. He brought his restaurant to Las Vegas, Nevada in October. He is an incredible promoter and marketer, taking advantage of the cultural backlash against the mania of "eating organic and healthy," "rising rates of gastric bypass surgeries," and "the obesity police." Aren't you disgusted every time you have to look at the anorexic celebrities, media personalities (only women...but then Dr. Oz is looking a bit emaciated these days) and announcers who must look trim before cameras while you sit on a chair oozing fat rolls over the sides or more likely have to push yourself up from a deep, cushy couch with the help of both hands (As a kid you could jump right up.)? You're sick of this obsession with obesity and "leaner is better," right?

Well, Dr. Jon's your man. He's phat! His in your face message about "eat and enjoy life and if you die, go out laughing" is one that resonates with folks who love humongous hamburgers (with oodles of bacon strips, cheese and over a pound of meat if you order the double-by-pass burger. The quadruple-by-pass burger is two pounds of meat.) and flatliner fries that are cooked with super caloric lard. But my oh my, they are lip smacking, taste bud tripping great, according to to the folks who go there.

It must be so because Dr. Jon's Las Vegas obesers' paradise (If you are over 350 lbs. you get to eat all you want FOR FREE.) launched with a ready following in full view of the FDA, Weight Watchers, The National Institutes of Health, the private medical industrial complex and Michelle Obama. And he is living it up and loving the place, playing the doctor we'd all love to go to by embracing your high blood pressure, diabetes and heart condition after you eat "heartily." This despite someone actually having a heart attack on the premises, which as irony would have it (and Dr. Jon is as sardonic as they come) had fabulous promotional value with plenty of free media coverage. Can it be better than that, even though Dr. Jon has said in reports that it was not a prank. To my mind, unconsciously the individual actually took the sardonic humor to heart, having an attack as the H.A.G.'s mantra suggested he do. (Is that a reversal of the reversal of the reversal? Hmmm) Problem is you walk in and eat at your own risk. Like the sign says, this food is dangerous.
Sign posted at the doors of the restaurant.
Initially, when I wrote about the restaurant in Chandler, Arizona (It has since closed.) in June of last year, I took a dim view because one of Doctor Jon's uber obese marketing actors (He was 575 pounds.) died. He didn't die of a heart attack, but certainly his immune system had been compromised by his obesity. But 8 months later as I feature this, I have to reevaluate. Maybe Dr. Jon has touched a lower middle and middle class socio economic chord with his humorous "screw you" to the upper class and media class' fear mongering about weight, disease and lifestyle. He has taken the healthy eating concept and turned it on its head, pushing it to its most absurd and ridiculous ironic extreme and people are loving it. Yes, let me eat myself to death!

Isn't that what overweight and obese folks do anyway? Now, let's be honest. Don't they scarf food down by the bucketfuls (without concern for amount or calories) but surreptitiously, so surreptitiously that they don't even register how much their hand shovels into their mouths, so their brains gauge too late, if at all, that they have overeaten?

Don't think I'm a sanctimonious, finger-ponting, self-righteous skinny person. I was one of those obesers and most of my eating was sneaky on the sly stuff. (refer to other blog posts) Rarely did I eat like an orca in front of other people; I was too ashamed. I ate like they did. But when I went home after dining out with friends or when I made meals for myself?  Ah ha! I had a free for all eating til I had to lie down on the floor for relief.

Well, Dr. Jon, you have brought all those closet overweighters and obesers OUT INTO THE OPEN! You have made it THE awesome thing to do. Eating to your heart's content (irony) is encouraged. And no one will ridicule an obeser. No! They will applaud them for their stamina and courage risking death. This is a community embracing overeating. In this one-of-a kind restaurant, together in a collective pig-out, "patients" bare their backsides to the medical establishment, fashion industry, weight loss industry, wacko health food industry and snot-nosed cultural elites who, with snarky comments raze the economic classes "beneath" them.
Menu at the H.A.G.
So here's to The Heart Attack Grill! It is a place of revelation, a place of peace and fun. A place where the obese belong. A place where fatties can finally feel free to eat without guilt. And if they become sick and die afterward, at least, they consciously counted the cost beforehand, and they embraced eating themselves to death. It probably was the first meal they had tasted and enjoyed in a long while, since much of the life of the obese is ruined before, during (Speaking for myself, I did not really taste or enjoy the food which I unconsciously overate.) and especially after a meal when, guiltily, they rue every mouthful they took.

On the other hand bringing the microscope closer and viewing the recent events at the Las Vegas H.A.G. all humor aside, how should we view the irresponsibility of the 40-year-old man  who was taken out by paramedics on a stretcher after the proprietor called 911? He had his attack while chomping a triple-by-pass burger (6000 calories). Even the proprietor Dr. Jon, who said, "He was sweating and suffering and I felt horrible for him," seemed shocked. Normally, the prank is to have a waitress/nurse convey the restaurant patron (patient) out in a wheel chair after they finish one of the humongous burgers chased down with some fries and a drink. But this was no joke! It was a canny prediction come true. 

Quadruple-by-pass burger (8000 calories)
Perhaps Dr. Jon may have an attack... of conscience, especially with the spotlight turned toward the H.A.G.? He has experienced the death of one obese young man he was close to, the marketing spokesman for the H.A.G. Though the link to Blair River's cause of death was not a cardiac arrest, the pneumonia complications may have been exacerbated by his morbid obesity and high caloric diet.

Will this latest incident give him pause or is he a complete cynic just out to make a buck and if you're the obese sucker who's willing to risk death, he will accommodate your needs and desires? He seems too cagey to pin down, though he did tell The Las Vegas Sun on February 16th, "You're intelligent if you don't eat our food. If people pondered what I'm doing, they'd realize I'm creating a mockery of this." Then he continues with an interesting reveal.

"When you hop on that scale and you're 350 pounds and we give you a free burger and people cheer, what's really going on? We're singling you out as a freak. 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."

Are you as confused as I am by his words? Is he saying that the obese walking in and getting free triple-by-pass burgers, the ones everyone cheers after the scale weigh-ins are FREAKS? That's what is really going on? A FREAK SHOW not a fat acceptance community? So once again, the obese are ridiculed. And this time by a man who is exploiting what he perceives to be their weakness by luring them to endanger their lives at no risk to himself. Does he also perceive them to be STUPID by saying "if you are intelligent, you won't eat here?" Obviously, he is. According to him, the obese people who eat for free at the H.A.G. are stupid. And so is everyone else who eats at The Heart Attack Grill.

So much for thumbing obese noses at the elites. It looks like once again, the uber thin, uber rich are being uplifted as INTELLIGENT, at the expense of the cheesy, greasy, fatty lower socio economic classes who enjoy cheaper eats and shy away from places that give tiny portions of beautifully prepared, presented fare.

 On the other hand is it half true he is bringing attention to the obesity crisis by mocking, ridiculing and revealing the freaks who will eat themselves to death? Rather a crude, rude and lewd way to do it and also a very frightening way. What happens if someone indeed has a cardiac arrest and dies at this place? Will anyone be laughing or cheering as he or she falls on the floor grasping his or her chest and gasps a last breath then death rattles into the next plane?

I wouldn't hesitate to agree with this truism. The proprietor IS an entrepreneur. But what a way to "make a buck!" Peace out...R.I.P.


Ciara said...

Hi, Carole. I followed you over from Twitter. Great blog! I'm a new follower. :)

Hena Tayeb said...

OMG that burger is scary!

Holly Helscher said...

Loved the video at the top. I agree the message is one that is mixed. The article reminds me of Adam Richman on Man vs. Food. I loved the show because I loved his style, but of course all fans were indirectly promoting his overeating. The show switched to Man vs. Nation and he no longer does the food challenges. And he no longer looks healthy, which is sad since he really is rather talented with audience engagement. Good article.

Carole Di Tosti said...

It's an irony that food porn is interesting to watch...but the result are devastating. A shame about AR. Hope he finds a healthier venue...with food.

Thanks for sharing.

Margo Dill said...

THat burger makes me sick! :) I would need to spilt that with 4 or 5 other people and I LOVE burgers. But anyway, I would probably go to this joint because I would want to just see the hype. But what to order or do they allow doggie bags?

Thanks, Carole, for sharing this place.

Carole Di Tosti said...

Yeah. I think eventually, he is going to have to close for good. Food porn is no joke, especially when someone has a heart up to the name of the restaurant. Guy had a cardiac arrest and paramedics coming in to take him out? How is restaurant not closed?

Amberr Meadows said...

I gained 5 pounds just looking at that burger!

Carole Di Tosti said...

Cute, Amberr.

Cathy Brockman said...

uggg this is really gross-- not a place i would bee going to !

Carole Di Tosti said...

I think guys go for this type of stuff. You don't see the women eating it!

Bose said...

Great video, hope this is shared with the world! Mens Health

Carole Di Tosti said...

Thanks for visiting. Incredible, right? Will people get it, though? Thanks. You remind me to promote this and get the word out.