Hot Poppin' Culture News From New York City

Heart Attack Grill Rep Dies at 29, Owner Threatens Media

Heart Attack Grill rep Blair River dead at 29Just days after Blair River, the 575-pound rep for the Heart Attack Grill died at the age of 29, the restaurant’s owner is lashing out at media by sending threatening emails to writers for reporting on the tragic death.

Jon Basso, the dickhead owner of the Heart Attack Grill restaurant in Chandler, Ariz., sent the following email March 4, 2011 at 10:30 pm ET regarding a news story about Blair River’s untimely death:

Subject: Heart Attack Grill
From:    “Jon Basso” <jonbasso@gmail.com>
Date:    Fri, March 4, 2011 10:38 pm
To:      schang@theImproper.com
————————————————————–

You’ve misquoted me.
You’re stretching the truth.
You’ve added fictional things to your article.
TAKE IT DOWN.
If you do not, I will go out of my way to publicly point out that you are
mocking a much loved person.
Don’t respond back to me. I do not wish to communicate with you. Simply take
it down. I will check tomorrow if your article is still up. If it is still
up I will make a VERY public example of your insensitivity.


Thank you,

“Dr” Jon Basso
Chief Surgeon
Heart Attack Grill
480-398-6601

____________________________________________

In his threatening e-mail, Basso claimed I added “fictional things” and misquotes (which were taken directly from the ABC News story he was cited in March 4) without pointing out what those alleged fictions and misquotes were. No one was mocking Blair River, whose tragic death is the subject of the article in question. Heart Attack Grill Rep Dies at 29, Owner Threatens Media 1

On March 1, Blair River, a jovial 6’8,” 575-pound man died at age 29 after being hospitalized for 4 days, according to Basso.

While Basso, who is not medically trained, insists River died from the flu, the official cause of death is still unknown.

Blair’s tragic demise made headlines because of the underlying irony of a morbidly obese man being the face of a hamburger joint that boasts it serves food “worth dying for.”

The Heart Attack Grill, a fast-food restaurant chain founded in 2005, prides itself on serving “nutritional pornography,” or food “so bad for you it’s shocking,” notwithstanding the epidemic of obesity in the United States.

‘Taste Worth Dying For’

While many popular restaurant chains such as McDonald‘s are making an effort to offer nutritious, low-calorie fare, the Heart Attack Grill is proud of its unabashedly unhealthy menu.

Customers are referred to as “patients” and must don hospital gowns and medical bracelets. Orders (called “prescriptions”) are written down by waitresses dressed in sexy, tight nurse uniforms.

On its menu, the Heart Attack Grill calls its food “taste worth dying for,” and boasts a selection of high-fat, high-calorie fare such as Quadruple Bypass Burger, Flatliner Fries (“deep-fried in lard”) and Butterfat Shake, which boasts the “world’s highest butterfat content.”

“Cynical people might think this [River’s death] is funny,” says Basso. “But people who knew him are crying their eyes out. You couldn’t have found a better person.”

Shockingly, Basso is a former nutritionist who previously managed a chain of Jenny Craig weight-loss centers in Oklahoma.

The restaurant’s website boasts that “if you’re over 350 pounds, you eat for free,” and a sign in front of the restaurant warns, “Caution: This establishment is bad for your health.”

‘We Are Guilty Of Glorifying Obesity’

Meanwhile, Basso is upfront about how nutritionally damaging the Heart Attack Grill menu is.

“We are absolutely guilty of glorifying obesity,” admits Basso. “That’s what I do for a living: I make a mockery of heart-related issues in order to sell hamburgers.

“The Heart Attack Grill can be viewed as absolutely evil. Each person takes it differently. I genuinely hope that people continue to eat in a sinful way, but moderately.”

Samantha Chang, J.D., is the co-owner and executive editor of TheImproper and a writer at Examiner.

Subscribe To TheImproper's Email Newsletters, Free!