The sign outside says it all: "Over 350 lbs eats free."

 

The Heart Attack Grill, which offers free meals to customers of a certain girth, opened Wednesday at Neonopolis in downtown Las Vegas. The restaurant can be seen in very different ways: a clever marketing ploy to lure diners with stomachs of steel (or slightly twisted senses of humor), or the latest salvo in a war against healthy living.

 

The theme of the fast-food joint isn't exactly subtle. The restaurant looks like a hospital, customers are "patients," waitresses are "nurses" and food orders are "prescriptions."

 

The calorie count of menu items is stratospheric. Burgers come in sizes that range from the "single bypass" (one patty with cheese and toppings) to the 8,000-calorie "Quadruple Bypass" (four patties with four slices of cheese and all the fixings). Fries are cooked in pure lard and dubbed "Flatliner Fries." The milkshakes are touted to have the highest butter fat content in the world. The restaurant also sells beer, soda, candy and no-filter cigarettes.

 

"The Heart Attack Grill diet is not for everyone," a telephone recording at the restaurant warns.

 

Customers who finish quadruple bypass burgers earn the honor of being pushed to their cars in wheelchairs. Thursday, hamburgers cooking on the grill kicked off so much fat the equipment caught fire.

 

"What better place to have such a gluttonous restaurant than in Sin City?" said owner Jon Basso, who goes by the name "Dr. Jon."

 

The first Heart Attack Grill opened in 2005 near Phoenix and was met with much criticism. Arizona's attorney general threatened to close it in 2006, saying Basso was in violation of a state law allowing only people with valid nursing licenses to be called nurses. Basso was arrested after saying he'd release a fire hose on a group of picketing health care providers.

 

Copyright 2011 Las Vegas Sun