- Posted June 17, 2014 by
las vegas, Nevada
Why Las Vegas's Heart Attack Grill is both the Best and Worst of America
The restaurant, located in old Las Vegas on Fremont Street, is nestled in between glowing marquee signs advertising easy winnings and cheap drinks. Across the street, a ten-foot tall shoe with red flashing lights rotates around a pole- for no apparent reason. Just a hundred yards away, tourists take pictures with giant neon dice and a pink glowing flamingo.
The restaurant tries its best to simultaneously shock and intrigue passerbys. The scale out front, naturally surrounded by flashing lights, resembles something one might use to weigh cattle and advertises that anyone over 350 lbs. eats free. Men, women, and children get on the scale and laugh as no one even comes close to 350 pounds. Americans are fat and laughing about it seems to be OK.
The sign on the door announces that they accept cash only- good old fashioned American consumerism at its finest. Upon walking in, customers are greeted by a kitschy interior and sexy “nurses,” who are actually waitresses in skimpy nurse costumes- every guy’s dream. Some critics on message boards say this is sexist- and maybe it is- but the girls seem to have fun and based on the average bill, probably don’t hurt financially. It’s pure American exhibitionism at its finest- and nobody is apologizing. Every customer is given a hospital gown to wear- the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter if you’re a broke college student or a high-powered executive.
Everyone looks equally ridiculous in a hospital gown.
The menu, which is very limited in nature, has only burgers, hot dogs, fries, and milkshakes on it. It’s towering Quadruple Bypass Burger, which boasts a whopping 9,982 calories, is basically a middle finger towards those who wish to regulate our food industry. (This place is pretty much Michael Bloomberg’s vision of hell.)
The truly dauntless can try their hand at eating this burger, a challenge that would seem ludicrous in anywhere but the Land o’ the Free. (Side note: our waitress reported that she had never seen anyone finish it.)
For men who don’t finish their burgers, a waitress good-naturedly spanks them using a paddle, much to the delight of their friends.
On the wall, a large mural depicts the last supper replacing the twelve disciples with fast food franchise icons, such as Chuck E Cheese, Little Caesar, Ronald McDonald, and the Burger King. The slightly sacrilegious painting is dripping in irony, for the viewer can’t help but wonder whether or not we do worship consumption in America. While many Americans might not be able to name all twelve disciples, almost all could surely identify the characters.
The wine arrives in an IV and shots arrive in customized pill bottles- a subtle jab at our desire to self-medicate in any way possible.
The bill comes at the end and instead of saying “tax,” says “Obama’s Cut,” which is a testament to the free speech that we enjoy as Americans. Of course you can check in on social media- the waitresses even add customer pictures to the restaurant’s Instagram page, because if there’s nothing we like more than having fun, it’s showing the world how much fun we’re having.
Heart Attack seems simultaneously embrace gluttony, but in a sarcastic manner. It’s as if they’re over-the-top assertions of decadence seems to almost be a wink at society, letting them know their in on the joke, possibly reflecting the collective psyche of America. Hey, foreigners, we get it- you think we’re obnoxious and narcissistic. Let’s show you how little we care by building a monument to our lesser values and inviting you to join us. (On any given night, foreigners from all over the world can be found enjoying the great American decadence experience that is not just the Heart Attack Grill, but Las Vegas in general.)
While other establishments might be worried about political correctness, the Heart Attack Grill blatantly thumbs its nose at the overly sensitive PC police and advises where customers can send hate mail.
Even though the food might be sub-par, the concept is one of pure originality and innovation. The Heart Attack Grill’s ability to dream something up- no matter how ridiculous, and turn it into a profitable success story, while maintaining just a bit of controversy might just embody the new American dream.