PC rab­bit food not on this menu

The Washington Times Weekly - - Page Two - By Maxim Kni­azkov

TEMPE, Ariz. — This quiet Phoenix sub­urb hardly seems prone to so­cial up­heavals. Yet a small restau­rant on the cor­ner of Warner and Kyrene roads has gained fame as the scene of a re­volt against the gov­ern­ment’s food pyra­mid.

The sym­bol of the revo­lu­tion is here: 2 pounds of siz­zling beef, ready to be stacked 8 inches high with lay­ers of toma­toes, onions, ba­con and cheese.

“Yes, we are against po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness,” said a smil­ing Jon Basso, the man­u­fac­turer of this juice-drip­ping fare, the mere sight of which might give the sur­geon gen­eral a heart at­tack. “We do it the way my grand­par­ents did: top-qual­ity beef and all-nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents.”

The Heart At­tack Grill, which opened more than a year ago, has at­tained no­to­ri­ety with an in-your-face de­fi­ance of ev­ery­thing the po­lit­i­cally cor­rect and health-con­scious crowds ab­hor.

No low-calo­rie sal­ads are on the menu, and the choice of soft drinks in­cludes none of the diet or de­caf­feinated va­ri­eties. The grill even sells to­bacco, al­though it is forced to abide by a city or­di­nance ban­ning smok­ing in pub­lic eateries.

The Heart At­tack Grill’s pota­toes, called “Flat-liner Fries,” are cooked in pure choles­terol-boost­ing lard and its burg­ers are named Sin­gle By­pass, Dou­ble By­pass and Triple By­pass.

On spe­cial re­quest, the chef will pro­duce a Quadru­ple By­pass, a tow­er­ing go­liath of a burger fea­tur­ing four half-pound pat­ties of prime ground beef with more than gen­er­ous fix­ings.

This sounds like an artery-clog­ging ticket to an early grave. But, as the owner jokes, whoever said that some food is not worth dy­ing for?

The grill’s wait­resses, called “nurses,” sport provoca­tive out­fits with red crosses and as­sure pa­trons of their com­mit­ment to cart them out in a wheel­chair if they have the guts to fin­ish at least a Triple By­pass.

But Mr. Basso’s revo­lu­tion goes far be­yond nu­tri­tional is­sues.

In a bla­tant act of re­fusal to par­tic­i­pate in build­ing a gen­tler and kin­der world, Mr. Basso openly de­nies male servers equal em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, re­quires his wait­resses to speak English and un­abashedly fa­vors youth over ex­pe­ri­ence. The me­dian age of his wait­resses, he says, is 20.

The restau­rant holds Al­pha Male Mon­days, dur­ing which men able to fin­ish a Triple or Quadru­ple By­pass are re­warded with a free T-shirt.

“In the end, they may leave here with more calo­ries, but ev­ery­one leaves hap­pier,” says Mr. Basso, iron­i­cally a for­mer fit­ness-club op­er­a­tor. “And that’s be­cause I give peo­ple what they want: good food and drink served by beau­ti­ful girls.”

Heart At­tack Grill cus­tomers say they are tired of the con­stant drum­beat of ad­vice about what they should or should not eat, of at­tempts to force the food in­dus­try to con­form with some­body’s con­cept of healthy liv­ing, of gov­ern­ments at var­i­ous lev­els try­ing to man­date in­di­vid­ual be­hav­ior and tastes.

“You know, I may need to shed a few pounds,” said Chuck, a bulky build­ing con­trac­tor from neigh­bor­ing Mesa who de­clined to give his last name. “But do I re­ally want spend­ing my en­tire life eat­ing rab­bit food?”

Ev­ery revo­lu­tion, of course, has its foes, and Mr. Basso’s is no ex­cep­tion.

In Septem­ber, at the urg­ing of the Ari­zona Board of Nurs­ing, the of­fice of state At­tor­ney Gen­eral Terry God­dard fired off a let­ter warn­ing Mr. Basso that the job ti­tle “nurse” can be used legally only in ref­er­ence to duly li­censed med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers.

In re­sponse, Mr. Basso added to his Web site a page for those “born with­out a sense of hu­mor,” ex­plain­ing that while the grill’s wait­resses “of­fer a high stan­dard of care, they are not real nurses.”

Fac­ing ridicule, the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice de­clared the mat­ter “closed.”

But the Bal­ti­more-based Cen­ter for Nurs­ing Ad­vo­cacy is still on the of­fen­sive against Mr. Basso’s busi­ness. Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Sandy Sum­mers says that the im­age of a naughty nurse, which the Heart At­tack Grill helps cul­ti­vate, en­cour­ages the be­lief that nurses are sup­posed to pro­vide sex­ual ser­vices — a be­lief she blames for com­plaints from 72 per­cent of nurses about un­wanted sex­ual ad­vances on their jobs.

Mr. Basso, who calls po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness a form of “in­tel­lec­tual fas­cism,” said that if the cen­ter wanted to get rid of him, it should stop talk­ing about him. He cred­its the pub­lic­ity gen­er­ated by such crit­i­cism with dou­bling his busi­ness over the past sev­eral months.

He says he will take his re­volt to Phoenix proper in July by open­ing an­other Heart At­tack Grill there — and then to New Or­leans some­time around De­cem­ber. He said he is al­ready “mak­ing too much money” and wants to make even more.

Maxim Kni­azkov / Spe­cial to The Wash­ing­ton Times

Don’t ask for a diet soda: A Triple By­pass with Flat-liner Fries is on its way. If it gives you a heart at­tack, a mock “para­medic” is there to as­sist.

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