Sun, Dec 10, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Theme restaurant causes real nurses' blood to boil


Cyndi Altman, a "nurse" at the Heart Attack Grill, served up a pair of single bypass burgers on Friday, Dec. 1, 2006 in Tempe, Arizona. The servers, called nurses at the restaurant because of their minimal nurses attire, have angered a group of real Arizona nurses who said they demean their profession.


The Heart Attack Grill -- a theme restaurant whose specialties include the Quadruple Bypass Burger and Flatliner Fries cooked in pure lard -- is making health-care professionals' blood pressure rise, and not because of the menu.

It is because of the waitresses' naughty nurse uniforms.

The waitresses wear skimpy, cleavage-baring outfits, high heels and thigh-high stockings -- a male fantasy that some nursing organizations say is an insult to the profession.

Several nurses have complained to the Arizona attorney general's office, and a national nursing group has repeatedly asked Heart Attack Grill owner Jon Basso to stop using the outfits.

"Nurses are the most sexually fantasized-about profession," said Sandy Summers, executive director of the Center for Nursing Advocacy, based in Baltimore, Maryland. "We're asking people, if they're going to have these fantasies, please don't make it so public. Move these sexual fantasies to other professions."

Basso shrugged off Summers' complaints, and referred to her and her supporters as prudes, cranks and lunatics.

"If anything, I think it glorifies nurses to be thought of as a physically attractive and desirable individual," Basso said. "There's a Faye Dunaway, Florence Nightingale hipness to it. Nobody wants to think of themselves as some old battle ax who changes bedpans for a living."

The most serious complaint Basso has faced was made to the Arizona attorney general's office by the state Board of Nursing. In September, the attorney general's office wrote Basso a letter informing him that he is illegally using the word "nurse" at his restaurant and on his Web site. Citing Arizona Statute A.R.S. 32-1636, the attorney general said only someone who has a valid nursing license can use the title.

Basso refused to remove the word "nurse" from his Web site but included the following disclaimer:

"The use of the word `nurse' above is only intended as a parody. None of the women pictured on our Web site actually have any medical training, nor do they attempt to provide any real medical services. It should be made clear that the Heart Attack Grill and its employees do NOT offer any therapeutic treatments [aside from laughter] whatsoever."

The attorney general's office sent a follow-up letter on Nov. 22 saying the Web site had cleared up the issue and that it was resolved.

Basso said the complaints have been good for business. "All they've done is ensure there's going to be a gadzillion of these all over the country," he said.

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