Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Excess Food and Painful Death at Heart Attack Grill

I wrote about changes at Olive Garden, and that made me think of a different restaurant. As Olive Garden is experimenting with smaller serving sizes, Heart Attack Grill takes the prevailing trend to its logical extreme: painfully large portions at insanely high prices.

Heart Attack Grill promotes itself as having food so unhealthy and portions so large that you are likely to die on the spot. There is an ambulance (fake, unfortunately) permanently parked out front. The boldness of the concept won the restaurant a ton of free publicity initially, and that included a degree of support from the beef industry, but the talk is not nearly so loud now that customers are actually dropping dead (from, yes, heart attacks).

One of the dead was a 29-year-old employee, a story that might have persuaded some observers that eating badly can kill you even if other factors are in your favor. Eventually, the number of victims becomes enough to persuade the skeptics that the “heart attack” in the restaurant’s name is something to take literally. Meat is scientifically known to do harm, including clogging arteries for hours, in proportion to the amount eaten. It isn’t so surprising, then, if eating unusually large amounts at once might sometimes kill a person quickly. As long as Heart Attack Grill is open, it will serve mainly as a reminder of the dangers of food in excess, and of beef in particular, and that isn’t something the beef industry will want people thinking about.