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Heart Attack Grill spokesman dies from heart attack


Steve Marcus

The sign for Heart Attack Grill is shown at Neonopolis in Downtown Las Vegas on Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012.

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 (9:20 p.m.)

John Alleman, who suffered a heart attack last week, was the inspiration for the "Patient John" caricature that adorns the Heart Attack Grill’s menu and merchandise.

John Alleman, who suffered a heart attack last week, was the inspiration for the "Patient John" caricature that adorns the Heart Attack Grill’s menu and merchandise.

The second unofficial spokesman for the Heart Attack Grill in downtown Las Vegas has died from an apparent heart attack.

John Alleman suffered a heart attack last week as he waited at the bus stop in front of the restaurant, located inside the Neonopolis at Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard.

Alleman was taken off life support shortly after 1 p.m. on Monday, said restaurant owner Jon Basso. He was 52.

"He lived a very full life," said Basso, who seemed shaken when reached by phone Monday evening. "He will be missed."

The Pennsylvania native is survived by his only family, his brother Paul. Basso said Alleman had a genetic predisposition for cardiac problems, as both of his parents died of heart attacks in their 50s.

Basso recalled Alleman as a fun-loving man who loved the Heart Attack Grill. The medically themed restaurant is famous for its high-fat menu that includes a record-breaking 9,982-calorie, 3-pound Quadruple Bypass Burger. The grill's slogan is "Taste worth dying for."

Since the restaurant opened in October 2011, Basso said Alleman would stand outside its doors every day, coaxing customers in. Soon enough, Alleman became a fixture at the restaurant he loved, Basso said.

When he wasn't working security at an abandoned high-rise construction site on the Strip, Alleman could be found at the grill, talking with customers and eating a burger.

"He never missed a day, even on Christmas," Basso said. "People just loved him. He connected with people in a real way."

Although he was never on the restaurant's payroll, Alleman was everywhere else. His caricature, "Patient John," graces the front of Heart Attack Grill's menu, clothing line and merchandise.

From time to time, "Doctor Jon" Basso said he would offer a free meal and drink for Alleman's troubles. He always declined, Basso said.

"He never wanted a handout from anyone. He always insisted on paying," Basso said. "He lived, ate and breathed the Heart Attack Grill."

Alleman is the second unofficial spokesman to die in the restaurant's nearly two-year history in Las Vegas. In March 2011, Blair River — known as the Grill's "Gentle Giant" — died of flu-related pneumonia, Basso said at the time. The 575-pound spokesman was just 29.

Since then, the Heart Attack Grill had a spate of health-related incidents that seem to live up to the restaurant's fated name.

In February 2012, one man was stricken with what was believed to be a heart problem while eating a Triple Bypass Burger. Two months later, a woman suffered from a similar medical problem while reportedly eating a Double Bypass Burger. It was unclear at the time if her medical issue was related to the food.

Alleman, who weighed about 180 pounds, is proof that heart attacks could happen to anyone, Basso said.

"Heart attacks aren't a laughing matter," he said. "You don't have to be tremendously old or fat. You can be in your 30s and 40s and die of a heart attack."

Although Alleman's death was a "wake-up call," Basso said he won't stop serving Flatliner Fries and the world's "most calorific burger" as long as the public has an appetite for them. The restaurant will have a new spokesman or woman when they find someone with as much passion for burgers as Alleman, Basso said.

"The grill is where you can be yourself. We accept people as they are," Basso said. "(Alleman's death) isn't going to stop us from what we're doing. People have got to live their lives."

No burial or funeral arrangements have been made yet; however, the restaurant will close that day in Alleman's honor. Basso said he will match dollar-for-dollar any contributions made to offset medical and funeral expenses incurred by Alleman's brother.

Anyone interested in donating money can reach Basso at his email: jon@hag350.com

More about the Heart Attack Grill

Downtown reporter Joe Schoenmann contributed to this story.

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Discussion: 29 comments so far…

  1. close it. Reopen as the Jackpot Grill or FreeCar Grill. Lets see how that goes.

  2. So sad....

  3. A name change won't make a difference, nor even if one eats there or at some buffet.

    The problem is overeating in one evening.

    Many a tourist has ended up in the local ER and admitted with a heart attack because they come here and think there are no limits on drink and food intake. NOT TRUE!

    Everything in moderation!

  4. A cautionary tale this is..

  5. So, he died of a heart attack. And...? There's no way to know if the heart attack was caused by the food he pushed, or if it was caused by genetics, or any other number of things.

    Being free means living with the consequences of your actions. Anyone suggesting that he would have lived to a ripe old age if only he were the spokesman for a produce company is delusional.

  6. As a novelty if you want to try the place, go ahead.
    Anyone eating there on a regular basis is an idiot.

  7. Would a liquor store use a known, raging alcoholic as it's 'spokesperson'?
    Would a tobacco company use a person wheezing away with lung disease as their 'spokesperson'?
    Would either of them say 'What can we tell you; the guy REALLY liked our product, it's too bad about his health'?
    Would it be considered 'funny' & acceptable to call a liquor store 'Cirrhosis Central'? Or, a ciggy shop 'Cancer Corner'?
    Would they offer FREE PRODUCT to people that appear to suffer from the effects of overuse of their goods as part of their AD campaign?
    Truth in advertising, I guess...
    I just don't get the 'funny' & 'clever' part about it.

  8. Really... Everyone is upset because this guy came up with an attention getting idea. Grow up! I have been by this place several times and... I didn't eat there. Why, because it has no interest to me. I don't want a bazillion pound burger etc. But it does make me laugh and it seems like people can have fun there. Oh, and for those that eat until they are carried out on a stretcher, LOL, gosh there be idiots! And then they die, too bad for being so stoopid. Yeah, I don't self-appoint myself as the worlds babysitter and know what is best for everyone fool. Sorry guys... Oh maybe PETA should protest as some sort of twisted perspective of animal cruelty garbage. "Gosh they are killing all those extra animals to make these really, really big burgers and that is just mean!" Morons...

  9. The guy was basically slim. His genetics (which he can't do a damned thing about) set him up for a heart attack. Yeah, you can make choices and hope for the best.

    Remember Jim Fixx, the guy that basically started the jogging craze of the late 70's. He jogged all the time and ate very carefully. And like Alleman, he came from a heart-attack prone family. No meat. Jog, jog.

    And he died in his 50's of a heart attack while out jogging.

    There's a moral in there somewhere.

  10. If he was there every day, he had to know this was coming. People do become addicted to high fat foods, I wonder it that was the case?

    I love a good burger, but all things in moderation and all really good things with even more caution. Well, almost everything good.

  11. "a full life"? I should say so.

  12. You can't accuse them of false advertising.RIP

  13. Good luck for Basso finding his new "spokesperson." Hey! Want to be my new spokesperson? The last two are DEAD!!

  14. I estimated the sodium content in what Mr Alleman ate. OMH! It was a massive amount of sodium.

    With a genetic issue related to heart disease, it was suicide for him to eat there. It was dangerous even not knowing his medical history.

    It could raise his blood pressure to life threatening levels, and there are other nutritional issues that are at play as well, including fluid imbalance problems resulting from ingesting so much sodium.

    Unfortunately, most people don't realize the danger they put themselves in when they go on a eating binge in LV or eat at the Heart Attack Grill.

    Age 52 is a return to the 50's and 60's medical states before the advances in medicine and nutritional knowledge of today. Today, that is a premature death.

  15. Death by quadruple cheese bacon ham egg avacado jalapeno burger, Life is hard it's even harder when you're stupid.

  16. I visited Heart Attack Grill for the first time in April 2012. I will definitely return next time I am in Vegas. This man's death was caused by YEARS of bad choices on his part, and possible genetics. This restaurant is NOT to blame. He made the choice to eat there, as well as any other customer.

    I love the fact that they ignore the "politically correct" crowd and promote themselves that way. The place is fun, the prices are reasonable, and it's always a good time just people watching there.

  17. It should hardly be a surprise, let alone be newsworthy, that a man who ate at the Heart Attack Grill every day died of a heart attack. But the news media gave almost no notice to the death of heart-surgeon Lawrence McBride, when at 61, this healthy 'good eater' died of a heart attack while exercising.