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Triple Bypass Burger Earns Threat of Lawsuit

By • Oct 13th, 2010 • Category: Burger Blog

When Mark Hipkiss, executive chef at John Howie Steak, a classy chophouse outside Seattle, recently invented a new cheeseburger to put on the menu, he decided to go a bit off the wall.  “I was just trying to make burgers that were a little different,” he told Norma Rosenthal of Jet City food blog Funtastic Foodie.  “You can always get the basics.  In the past, I’ve played with deep-fried mozzarella and even a chili relleno burger, but I thought this would bring some real energy into the room.”  So last month, he unveiled this:

That shot is also from Funtastic Foodie, and it shows Hipkiss with his burger brainchild: 12 ounces of prime chuck, topped with tempura-fried Kurobuta bacon and onion rings, served between two grilled cheese sandwiches oozing with Tillamook cheddar and Swiss cheese.  “The point here is flavor, not calories,” Hipkiss told  “It’s the ‘Wow!’ factor when the plate hits the table and everybody pulls out the cameras.”  Here’s a mouthwatering closer look, from that same site:

But not everyone said “Wow.”  In fact, Hipkiss was threatened with a lawsuit over his culinary creation.  The problem?  The name.  Hipkiss introduced his beef bomb as The Triple Bypass Burger.  And that set off alarm bells 1,500 miles to the south… in Chandler, Arizona.  That’s where a joint called the Heart Attack Grill got their panties in a bunch, since they, too, have a burger called the Triple Bypass Burger.

As you can see, The Heart Attack Grill is a restaurant with a unique theme.  The waitresses dress up like naughty nurses and will roll you out to your car in a wheelchair upon request.  The cooks wear stethoscopes and surgical scrubs.  If you’re over 350 pounds (and you have to actually weigh in first), you eat for free- all day, every day.  And the menu is as decidedly unhealthy as they could make it:

Yeah, that’s the entire menu.  Really.  Even the smokes and the part about the lard. (Although I hear that they now also offer Mexican Coca-Cola, made with pure cane sugar.  It’s sensational and worth seeking out if you have a Hispanic market where you live.)  And sure enough, there’s their Triple Bypass in the lower left corner, complete with the little circle-R trademark thingy.  Never mind that the Seattle Triple Bypass bears no resemblance whatsoever to the Phoenix version. The similarity is in name alone.  But it was enough for the Heart Attack Grill’s owners to claim trademark violation and threaten John Howie Steak with legal action if they didn’t change the name of their burger.

Hipkiss has complied, and as of this writing, the Burger Formerly Known as The Triple Bypass is listed on the menu as the “What’s That Burger?” But that’s just a temporary moniker.  The steakhouse is currently holding a contest to come up with the sandwich’s permanent name.  (Regular readers and Atlanta burgermeisters know, of course, that “Double Coronary” is already taken by a similar ‘wich.)   The contest winner gets a free party for six, with a half-dozen of the burgs and six pints of house-made ale.  Naughty nurses definitely not included.

For a video report on this story from Eric Wilkinson of Seattle’s KING-TV, click here.

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