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BEST UNLIKELY CHAMPION OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT Phoenix 2007 - Heart Attack Grill - CLOSED

Heart Attack Grill

Heart Attack Grill

6185 W. Chandler Blvd.

Chandler, AZ 85226

480-705-9870

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Heroes come from the strangest places. For instance, about a year ago, when Valley restaurateur Jon Basso opened the doors of the Heart Attack Grill — where sexy young waitresses dressed as naughty nurses serve up über-greasy burgers like the "Triple Bypass" and "Quadruple Bypass" — the eatery entrepreneur never thought he'd wind up battling the government and becoming the poster boy for the First Amendment. But that's just what happened last fall when the Arizona State Board of Nursing and the Maryland-based Center for Nursing Advocacy took umbrage with the joint's usage of medical costumes and its flaunting the sexy nurse stereotype. The Arizona attorney general's office even got involved, sending out threatening letters to Basso indicating he was in possible violation of state laws designed to keep quacks and con artists from passing themselves off as legitimate health care professionals since his servers were using the title of "nurse."

It was a laughable attempt at a legal smackdown, since no one in their right mind thought they were going to the Heart Attack Grill for medical attention (other than clogging their arteries). The brouhaha got worldwide media coverage — including appearances on Fox News, 20/20, Geraldo Rivera, and German and Japanese television — where Basso made like Hustler founder Larry Flynt and maintained the issue was one of free expression (albeit a rather salacious one) versus a misuse of power by the government. Eventually, the state backed off and Heart Attack Grill was free to keep slinging greasy beef and sexual innuendo at its new location in east Phoenix (the Chandler location closed in June). While we're not particular fans of Basso's burgers (they're really quite so-so), we dig the fact the dude's willing to stand up for free speech.

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