LOS ANGELES - The Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas would appear to have lived up to its reputation for the second time in as many months: On Saturday, a woman collapsed at the restaurant known for gleefully serving up artery-clogging entrees.
Owner Jon Basso said Monday that he wishes the customer a swift and full recovery. But, he added, the woman got exactly what she asked for: a brush with death.
"We attract an avant-garde clientele - thrill seekers, risk takers," he told the Los Angeles Times, adding that his restaurant is a "bad for you but fun" restaurant that "attracts people who don't really take good care of their health."
The condition of the woman was not immediately known; she was wheeled out of the restaurant by paramedics.
She had been downing a margarita and smoking a cigarette before she was stricken, Basso said.
"She was eating, drinking, smoking, laughing, dancing, having fun," Basso said of the restaurant-goer, who fell unconscious Saturday night. "But when you treat your body like that day in and day out, eventually your body is going to give out."
The Heart Attack Grill is a hospital-themed restaurant that belly laughs at doctors' orders to steer clear of excessively caloric and fatty meals.
Waitresses wear skin-tight nurses' uniforms, and Basso dresses as the cardiologist on staff, complete with doctor's coat and stethoscope. Diners are called patients. And on the menu: "Flatliner" fries cooked in lard, shakes made with pure cream, and four flavors of "bypass" burgers, as in single, double, triple or quadruple bypass.
The Quadruple Bypass Burger can top 10,000 calories. Basso said the Guinness World Records book contacted him Friday to say that the burger was being crowned the most caloric sandwich on Earth.
The restaurant also offers free meals to people weighing more than 350 pounds.
The popular restaurant was in the news in mid-February when a man fell ill while eating a "Triple Bypass Burger" and had to be wheeled out of the restaurant by emergency workers. (Real ones, not staffers playing dress up.)
Basso, who calls himself a "board-certified burgerologist" working on the front lines to rid the world of anorexia and sobriety, says he doesn't really worry about liability issues or one of his "patients" suing him.
"Unlike cigarettes, I have had warnings labels since Day 1 when we opened in 2005 telling people how bad our food is for you. I think that skirts any liability we might have."
As for his critics, Basso says that the restaurant says more about the diners than it does about the ownership. He said he is posting signs throughout the restaurant promoting the new spot in the Guinness World Records book, and he makes no secret of the burger's eye-popping calorie count. "So what is it about someone who sees that sign and sees that this burger has 9,993 calories in it, and that person says 'I want one of those.'
"I tell you, we attract that very bleeding edge, that avant-garde of risk takers."