‘Heart Attack Grill’ Owner Proudly Displays Dead Customer’s Remains on TV

The Vegas-based restaurateur says he wants you to know his food kills — so that maybe you'll stop eating junk.

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Joshua Lott / Reuters

Heart Attack Grill owner Jon poses with a quadruple bypass cheese burger in Chandler, Arizona June 17, 2009. The restaurant is known for its hospital theme and triple and quadruple bypass burgers.

The Vegas-based Heart Attack Grill makes no bones about the danger its offerings pose to customers. The restaurant’s name warns diners what to expect if they eat what’s on the menu, and the grill’s 10,000 calorie ‘Quadruple Bypass Burger’ conveys a similarly ominous message. Now, the establishment’s owner has taken his campaign to prove his food’s lethality to the next level by displaying a dead customer’s cremated remains on live television.

On Thursday, Jon Basso, Heart Attack Grill’s well-spoken founder, appeared on Bloomberg’s In the Loop with Betty Liu to discuss his restaurant’s deadly fare. “I’m probably the only restaurateur in the entire world who is unapologetically telling you that my food is bad for you, that it will kill you, and you should stay away from it,” said Basso.

He then revealed a clear plastic bag filled with a powder-like substance. “I’m here with the cremated remains of someone who died at my restaurant. He died of a heart-attack at my restaurant, and I’m putting the bag  clearly on the table. I wish that Burger King, McDonalds, and everyone else would do the same thing.”

“John, wait… hold on one second,” sputtered a clearly shocked Liu. “This is getting a little grim. You’re saying you have the actual cremated remains of someone who died at your restaurant?”

“Absolutely,” replied Basso, “because the entire fast-food industry is pretty grim.”

While the cremation stunt may represent new ground for the Heart Attack Grill founder, Basso’s efforts to promote the danger his food poses are nothing new. The restaurateur, who is known for wearing a doctor’s outfit to highlight his food’s medical consequences, has previously bragged that those who dine at his grill are the “avant-garde of risk takers.” He even offers customers weighing 350 pounds or more the option to eat for free. It should then come as no surprise that multiple customers have died at the grill, including two spokespeople, and that one man was wheeled away in a stretcher after trying to finish a burger.

But according to Basso, he’s just trying to teach people a lesson about healthy eating in an industry averse to honestly.

“The end result of our eating habits is all around us,” Basso told an incredulous Liu. “It’s an obesity epidemic that is killing the world.”

“Do I want others to die at my restaurant? No. Actually I want to wake up one morning and open the door and have no one ever come in again, because maybe the world would have learned the truth,” added the owner. “Now, I make good money joking about how bad my food is. But at least I’m honest.”

However, Liu wasn’t buying the sales pitch. “It’s not a joke,” the anchor shot back. “You have people actually dying from your food, John. I mean, isn’t there some responsibility here?”

Watch the entire interview Bloomberg interview:

36 comments
JSweet
JSweet

Does Betty Liu not realize that people are dying from eating the food at MacDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, Five Guys, Carl's Jr, In and Out, and others as well.  There are people that eat at those establishments every day!  They may not be physically dying AT the restaurant, but they're dying, just the same from heart disease.

ragingliberal
ragingliberal

Maybe if he wants to open up a restaurant which fights obesity he should open up  a restaurant which serves healthy food.  Like maybe salads, fruit, vegetables, healthy types of fish, and maybe even moderate amounts of chicken (no skin of course).   Oh, and how about not objectifying women in his restaurant either?  Just. maybe?

JimmyDorsemond
JimmyDorsemond

what i don't understand is, what's the point of even owning a restaurant if he's deliberately telling people NOT to eat there?

SusanDjReneeBoudreaux
SusanDjReneeBoudreaux

This proves that Americans are brain dead and that is all this guy is proving, yet he is being shot down for it....McDonalds and none of the others will ever truly take responsibility and neither will the Americans who frequent these places. It is the unfortunate consequence of living in a capitalist, consumer driven society(along with massive marketing). The fast food places can open later and close earlier, use actual real products but they never will because the moment they do, an independent will come in and fill the void. 

wi1lywonka
wi1lywonka

Lol, obviously he's responsible. But he's the only one owning up to it. The McDonald's people are just denying it.

david_rings
david_rings

I bet these taste amazing.  We all have a self destruct button.

ValKain
ValKain

I find what he says makes perfect sense.  Live by your choices, die by your choices.  One meal here will not kill you.  If you are already morbidly obese, this could be the end of your road you have been traveling for awhile.  But still, one 10k calorie burger by itself will not kill you without some pre-existing health condition.

A skinny guy eating here 7 days a week will likely die of morbid obesity, but that won't be Jon Basso's fault.  He didn't strap down a skinny man and force him to eat day after day.  It be that person's own choice to do so..

He is in the same business as McDonald's. To sell FLAVOR.  With many restaurants the world over, people go out to eat foods they cannot cook or make themselves.  He has the equipment to cook a delicious lard fried fries, or I can go to McDonald's for their beef-oil fried fries.  Either way, I don't own a fry machine.


McDonald's is not Jenny Craig.  They are in the business to sell food you like, and try to draw you back.  He is doing the same exact thing, but isn't trying to pretend some crappy no-nutrition iceberg salad with fatty toppings and fatty creamy dressing is your "healthy" option at his place of business.

If I go on a trip and pass by,or if a restaurant opens in my area, I would go and eat there for the experience to enjoy.  Followed by several days of exercise and remorse for my decision to eat there.

joyoflife11
joyoflife11

Say what you will about this guys tactics. He makes his point and you will remember it.

BarneyWills
BarneyWills

so what about 350 pound musclemen? do they eat for free?

scott.frix
scott.frix

I used to have high cholesterol. I used to eat bacon double cheeseburgers on occasion, and my doctor told me to take Lipitor. Now I eat red meat and pork very rarely, a lot more vegetables, have a new doctor and perfectly healthy cholesterol.

This guy has a point, much like a heroin dealer who says his stuff will kill you. I don't really understand why anyone would eat this stuff.

TagoreSmith
TagoreSmith

This guy is funny (and an amazing marketer,) but let's be honest. One meal is not going to hurt you, no matter what it is (assuming it's not actually poison, or contaminated.) I've been known to eat the occasional quintuple burger, and I'm pretty sure that as long as that's _occasional_ it's not a problem. I'd agree that you ought to limit your consumption of 10,000 calorie burgers to at most two a day, except on special occasions.

CobaltBomb
CobaltBomb

Weeding out the gene pool, one, sorry sonofabitch at a time.

ChuckKopsho
ChuckKopsho

I am evidence that fast-food is indeed fattening. My psych meds give me a voracious appetite, so I'm screwed either way, but the comfort foods taste much better. I'm a salad eater, however, there's that craving that's irresistable. I subscribe to the maxim that says, "You pays your money, you takes your chances". Peace, out!

JimStone
JimStone

Clearly this man is a genius at promoting his restaurant and drawing in customers by using the all too famous reverse psychology technique! Who in their right mind is NOT going to be tempted to go see what it's all about after seeing that stunt?!? Not to mention offering FREE FOOD to people who are already glutinous!! Genius!!! I tip my hat.

minstrelmike
minstrelmike

Seems to me a restaurant owner has far less culpability than a gun manufacturer. Food is only killing the people who actually eat it.

Hellomynameis
Hellomynameis

10,000 calorie meal is alright, when eaten infrequently.

Restaurant eating is for frivolous pleasure. Too much of that and it become dangerous to health, just like any other pleasing activity taken too far. 

People whose health is compromised by their eating habits have one of two issues:

They don't care about their health (their right).

They care but lack integrity.

Govman
Govman

Seriously?  I have had a heart attack. I have been to this restaurant twice on visits to Las Vegas. Both times, I walked in the door, breathed in the heavenly aromas, decided immediately that this would not be a healthy place to eat and walked out. He makes no bones about it, and like all the rest of you, I had a choice and exercised it. Do not berate this man for the honesty in his pitch or the dangers of his product. He tells you on the walls of his place that it is bad for you.

If customers can't accept the responsibilities for their very bad choices, why should he? He's not the one in denial here. If you want to excoriate Basso, line up Wendy's, McDonalds, Pizza Hut and all the rest, too. Not to mention the tobacco industry.


cwmelo
cwmelo

Heart Attack Grill~.~

mados123
mados123

Ingenious marketing.  He's essentially appealing to the most base instinct of gluttonous (or adventurous) people and made a profitable business for himself while being unapologetically truthful about what is being served.  It's appropriate that it is in Vegas (although I'm sure rest of obese America would love it to be more local).

brower8
brower8

Only in Vegas. So much for the slogan "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

sicktoaster099
sicktoaster099

Can't say the people eating here don't know the risk.

JerryHowe
JerryHowe

This guy is a real creative entrepreneur. My hat is off to this man. 

He has traveled down a path no one has dared to blaze before.

trlkly
trlkly

@wi1lywonka How in the world do you figure he's owning up to it? People who realize they are killing people don't brag about it. They sure as heck don't deliberately try to make it worse. Owning up to something means you stop doing it.

Saying "I'm a rapist" doesn't suddenly make rape okay, now does it? Owning up means taking your punishment.

trlkly
trlkly

@Govman He's not being honest. He's being disingenuous. Someone who doesn't want people to die doesn't keep the remains of a dead person as a trophy.

There are two people in any interaction. People can't buy what you don't provide. At best this guy is trolling, and at worst he is a psychopath, enjoying the death of people.

JerryHowe
JerryHowe

@mados123 

I do not believe in any way that this should stay in Las Vegas.

There is room for this type of restaurant in many cities in this country.

How about Philadelphia and Chicago for a start ? 

trlkly
trlkly

@JerryHowe No one has dared blaze it because it is morally reprehensible. The dude sees a dead person as a prop for advertising (if he's not serious) or a trophy (if he is).

The thing that's worse is that I seem to be the only person here who is bothered by it. I used to laugh at my fundie friends who thought the world was evil, but maybe they are right. People really do think that money trumps morality. This guy is an entrepreneur, so who cares if what he did was right?

minstrelmike
minstrelmike

I disagree he is blazing a new trail. He is just in front of you as he sells you deadly 'food' items. Most of the folks who sell the worst stuff, potato chips, candy bars and ice cream, do so through fronts which are called "grocery stores" but sell mostly meat- and vegetable-flavoured fats and sugars. 

It's not new.

Tai223236
Tai223236

@trlkly See....it's one thing to not agree with his method, but does that really give you an excuse to straw man? Cremated remains a "trophy"? Who said that apart from you? I'll be honest, that is a bit extreme, but let's not try to pretend he wasn't trying to make a point.

Also, if he can guarantee people's deaths just by having a fast food restaurant, then how is McDonalds (which for the record I DO EAT AT OCCASIONALLY), Burger King, and Wendy's any different? Does anyone who goes there REALLY believe that?

You're essentially shooting the messenger as a means to pass off the message. You're really trying to claim this guy is the real problem?

JerryHowe
JerryHowe

@JerryHowe 

People are very emotional about food. They do not like being told what they should and should not eat.

I am a plant based person myself. I find that the only way that you can make any kind of point about the importance of diet is by bringing up mortality. That is exactly what Mr. Basso has done and I commend him for that. People are going to continue to eat this fat laden, artery clogging, cancer causing food regardless of  what you tell them. He has presented a case for why you should not be eating it, it is very effective,  and  for this reason he is truly a hero.

JerryHowe
JerryHowe

@minstrelmike 

I agree with you with the fact that he is not alone. He is unique in the way that he is upfront about telling you that his food will kill you. He is very successful in selling his product with a technique that no one else has used.


I live in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto  (Chez Panisse).

All of the restaurants in this area, with perhaps the exclusion of a few vegan restaurants, are selling  similar types of product, disguised as "organic". "free range", or "locally sourced". 

They are always laced with huge amounts of butter, cheese, or olive oil.

If they did not used these fats, along with a healthy dose of salt, no one would return due to the level of competition in the area.

 I would take it one step further, and tell you that in the present state of restaurant fare in America,  if you dine out frequently in this country, or you consume fast food, you are going to be over weight eventually,

Coupled with spending a portion of your life on a smart phone or laptop, unless you want the endless grind and hassle of working out in a gym, you will probably end up obese on some level by the time you're  55 years old. 

Adjusting to a plant based diet is far easier and you will be able to do it for a lifetime without getting tired of it. Just don't be too rigid with it in the beginning. Your taste buds and dietary cravings will change over time and everything will make sense in the end. 

I can assure you that there is absolutely no scientific related research in the future that is going to claim that consumption of more animal products and fats is beneficial to your health.

This man deserves an interview on 60 Minutes.  He is a very noble businessman



JerryHowe
JerryHowe

@AndrewKamadulski @JerryHowe @minstrelmike 

Going to the gym is great. I am supporter of physical activity, the more, the better.

Keep going to the gym for a regular workout.

However, if you are motivated to go there as a result of the fact that you are trying to keep you weight in check, you've got it all wrong.

Your diet  is the best way to keep  your weight within in a normal range. 

Working out to stay slim while consuming the typical American / western diet is a backward approach that most people cannot and will not adhere to for the better duration of their lives .  Face it, for most people, getting to the gym is a hassle.

Adopt a plant based  diet. This is the easiest, safest, approach to good health, a lean body, low blood pressure,  and no heart disease.

Mr. Basso is a bold, creative, entrepreneur. He is giving the people what they want with a grim message. People get very emotional when told what they should and should not eat. They only way that you can get them to listen is to confront them with their own mortality and he is doing that very effectively.



AndrewK777
AndrewK777

@JerryHowe @minstrelmike  

"endless grind and hassle of working out in a gym"


Really? That's how you feel about it? It is something I look forward to each day. It makes me feel better and more energized every time. Going without a workout actually makes me feel like trash. Much like eating garbage food does.


And no, this guy is not a noble businessman. He is using the grotesque to sell a product. He isn't trying to warn people or do a service, he is challenging them. He's basically putting on a freak show where the customers are the freaks. Selling out all common decency to make a buck is not moral at all. Except in the god ole USA, where greed is a moral virtue.