Nightly News | October 19, 2011
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