12 February 2013
By JoNel Aleccia, Staff Writer, NBC News
54-year-old man who spent his days touting the greasy pleasures of the Heart
Attack Grill in Las Vegas has died of an apparent heart attack, the
restaurant's owner said.
John Alleman was waiting for a bus outside
the downtown grill last week when he collapsed, Jon Basso told NBC News.
Alleman was hospitalized for several days, but died on Monday at Sunrise
Hospital and Medical Center, a spokeswoman confirmed. He's the second
unofficial spokesman for the unabashedly unhealthy restaurant to die in the
past two years, according to press reports.
For the past 18 months,
Alleman spent part of virtually every day at the grill, standing outside the
doors, urging customers to come in and try the restaurant's renowned
"Coronary Dog" or a side of "Flatliner Fries." The place is known for
flagrantly fattening entrees, including the "Quadruple Bypass Burger" that
weighs in at 9,983 calories.
"He did it for free," Basso said. "He
wouldn't accept a dollar. He wouldn't even accept a free burger."
Alleman was relatively slender, but had a family history of heart disease,
Basso said. He apparently lost both of his parents in their early 50s. He is
survived by a brother, Paul Alleman, who also lives in Las Vegas, records
show. He is the second unofficial spokesman for one of Basso's restaurants
to die, according to press reports. Blair River, who stood 6-foot-8 and
weighed 575 pounds was known as the "Gentle Giant" at the Heart Attack Grill
in Chandler, Ariz., according to the Arizona Republic newspaper. He died in
March 2011 from complications of flu-related pneumonia. He was 29.
Alleman was known at the Las Vegas restaurant as "Patient John," a nod to
the grill's hospital-themed gimmick where waitresses clad in skimpy costumes
are called "nurses" and Basso refers to himself as the "head surgeon." A
caricature of Alleman is a staple on Heart Attack Grill menus, clothing and
other merchandise. His real job was as a security guard at a local
skyscraper, Basso said.
Basso seemed shaken by Alleman's death in a
telephone interview. He said he was with Alleman before he died and didn't
know quite what to do with a bag of Alleman's clothing and personal
belongings a hospital staffer told him to take home. The grill will go on,
said Basso, who was fielding media calls during a bartending shift on
Tuesday. A former owner of a diet center, he said he grew tired of lying to
people about weight-loss. The restaurant may have another spokesman, but,
for now, Basso said he was missing his friend. "Normally, I'm a lot more
jovial," he said. "I'm sorry."