Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dining in The Twilight Zone

Warning: This entry could cause heart palpitations, excessive tsk-tsking, and possible incontinence. Ask your physician if you’re healthy enough to enjoy industry foibles without risk of dangerous guffawing. But if The Big One should hit and people urge you to walk toward the light, would you mind signing a waiver first? The publicity benefits would be really a boon.

Sorry. I’ve just been following the aftermath of what most would call a tragedy at the Heart Attack Grill, the Vegas burger joint that famously challenges customers to risk cardiac arrest by downing a heart-stopping load of cholesterol and calories. On Saturday, in case you haven’t heard, the second customer in two months was waylaid by the over-indulgence. She had to be rushed to the hospital, her condition unclear as of this writing.

So what did the restaurant do? Owner Jon Basso gushed to the Los Angeles Times that a downed customer attests to the Grill's “avant-garde clientele -- thrill seekers, risk takers.”

Oh, what could be better than putting a patron in the ER!

I think he would’ve wept if he could’ve somehow gotten Kim Kardashian involved.

 Of course that’s not the only bizarre news to arise in the industry this week.

Consider, for instance, the proposal that was floated in California’s San Bernardino County by Supervisor Neil Derry. Like many areas, the country requires restaurants to post their sanitation scores, a letter grade, in a window so patrons can make an informed dining-out decision. Derry wants the mandate amended so the restaurants would also indicate whether or not they used the federal government’s E-Verify system to weed out job applicants who are in the country illegally. The letter’s color would indicate whether or not the eatery had taken that step to detect illegal aliens. 

Less weird but still aha-worthy are the day’s announcements from IHOP and Krispy Kreme. The two indulge specialists are trumpeting the introduction of new treats for their fans. Yet the products—fruit pies for Krispy, and pancake syrups for IHOP—won’t be sold in the restaurants. They’re the latest scuffing of the line between retail and foodservice.

I’ll end by pointing out what I won’t address here, since it seemed to the whole internet seemed to be talking about it last week. Yes, a Burger King customer in Japan ordered a burger topped by more than 1,000 slices of bacon. No need to say more about that.

Except that he should really look into opening an Asian branch of the Heart Attack Café.

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