Nightly News   |  October 19, 2011

Want fries cooked in lard with that?

At the recently opened Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas, customers who tip the scales at more than 350 pounds eat free. The eatery specializes in food that's bad for you, including a so-called “quadruple bypass burger.” NBC’s George Lewis reports.

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BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Imagine, in this day of the roving food police, a restaurant that serves no diet drinks, makes its fries in pure lard and sells no-filter cigarettes, where if you can manage to eat the specialty of the house, you get a ride to your car in a wheelchair. It's not a new restaurant, just the newest branch has just opened in Las Vegas , where, sure, people like to go to gamble. But is this place serious? Well, as NBC 's George Lewis reports tonight, serious as a heart attack .

GEORGE LEWIS reporting: In the middle of Sin City , they have turned the deadly sin of gluttony...

Unidentified Man: Awesome.

LEWIS: ...into a thriving business.

Mr. JON BASSO: If you want to be enabled with your gluttony, with your junk food binges, come in. I'll accept you with open arms.

LEWIS: It's the Heart Attack Grill , specializing in food that's bad for you. Decorated like a hospital, with the servers known as nurses and the customers referred to as patients...

Unidentified Woman: Doctor's orders .

LEWIS: ...and an owner who calls himself Dr. Jon.

Mr. BASSO: Give the people what they want , but tell them the truth. And that's what we're doing here.

LEWIS: What we have here is the Heart Attack Grill 's piece de resistance, the quadruple-bypass burger with four half-pound patties. We have the fries done up in lard and the triple-butterfat shake. A total of about 8,000 calories.

Ms. LAURA KRUSKALL (Department of Nutrition Sciences, University of Nevada): For the average person, an 8,000-calorie meal is the equivalent of five days' worth of food.

LEWIS: House policy, customers who tip the scales at more than 350 pounds eat free. So what if there's an epidemic of obesity in this country?

Mr. BASSO: If I were to dodge the point that I'm killing people, would I be a very ethical businessman?

Mr. BLAIR RIVER: I get to eat for free.

LEWIS: All joking aside, Blair River , a 575-pound spokesman for one of Jon Basso 's former restaurants, died in March.

Mr. BASSO: If Blair were hovering above me, he would say, 'Hey, Dr. Jon , I still love the joke. I love everything you're doing. Keep it up.'

LEWIS: And in parting, he offers a twist on the old Sin City slogan.

Mr. BASSO: The calories that are eaten in Vegas stay in Vegas .

LEWIS: Not really. The pounds you gain at his Vegas eatery stay with you.

Man: I survived!

LEWIS: George Lewis , NBC News, Las