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Instant Heart Attack sandwich under fire
Wayne Parham Photography A Heart Attack Grill "nurse" serves some hamburgers.

A popular New York City deli says a potential legal challenge to its Instant Heart Attack sandwich isn't kosher.

A lawsuit filed on Tuesday in the federal court says the Heart Attack Grill restaurant chain has accused the 2nd Avenue Deli of stealing its idea to spoof healthy eating with calorie-bomb entrees like the three-patty Triple Bypass Burger.

It asks the court to block Arizona-based Heart Attack Grill from pursuing a trademark infringement case.

The deli's Instant Heart Attack sandwich is made up of two potato pancakes and a piled-high choice of corned beef, pastrami, turkey or salami. The 2nd Avenue Deli Instant Heart Attack costs $US23.95 ($22).

The Manhattan deli also has plans for a Triple Bypass sandwich.

2nd Avenue Deli says it is "home to the finest Jewish culinary creations in New York City". It serves only kosher meat, poultry and fish.

Meanwhile, Heart Attack Grill is a hospital-themed restaurant with chains in Arizona and Texas.

The company says it has become internationally famous for "embracing and promoting an unhealthy diet of incredibly large hamburgers".

"Customers are referred to as 'patients', orders as 'prescriptions', and the waitresses as 'nurses'," HAG says.

Items on the company's menu include Single, Double, Triple and Quadruple Bypass Burgers, Flatliner Fries (which are "deep fried in pure lard"), Lucky Strike no-filter cigarettes for the adults and Candy Cigarettes "for the kids".

Its Butterfat Shake has the world's highest butter fat content, HAG says.

"The menu names imply coronary artery bypass surgery and refer to the danger of developing atherosclerosis from the food's high proportion of saturated fat and excessive caloric content," the company says.

"The Quadruple Bypass Burger has been quoted by the media at around 8000 calories.

"One of the restaurant's most celebrated (and widely publicised) gimmicks is the free wheelchair service provided to those 'patients' who successfully finish the Quadruple Bypass Burger. Amidst a flurry of photography from tourist bystanders the 'patients' are pushed in a wheelchair out to their cars."

Heart Attack Grill was created in 2005 by "Dr Jon".

The company says Dr Jon is a "non-American Medical Association recognised physician" who was arrested after threatening to set a fire hose on a group of picketing nurses.

"He has been glorified as the freedom-fighting archenemy of political correctness by some, and demonised as a charlatan 'nutritional pornographer' by others," the company says.

"Dr Jon can be found each day at the griddle, actually flipping hamburgers in his white doctor's lab coat and stethoscope.

"The restaurant has found itself in a continual state of self-defence against various activist groups and branches of state government."

HAG says diners who reach the 350 pound (160kg) "goal weight" will be treated to free meals.

Dr Jon's fitness book Heart Attack Grill Diet attempts to teach readers how to eat, drink and smoke their way to better health, the company says.

HAG is not short of fans, with tens of thousands of people enjoying the restaurant chain's Facebook page.

Dr Jon, aka Jon Basso, told Fox News presenter Neil Cavuto in 2007 that Heart Attack Grill was "like every restaurant should be - a place to enjoy one's life, eat to the fullest (and) have fun".

"Don't worry about what people are telling you," Basso told Cavuto.

"I am an American citizen. My customers, or patients, as I call them, are American citizens. And we will eat what we want to."

A Heart Attack Grill lawyer did not respond to an Associated Press request for a comment. A 260kg man who served as the company's spokesman died in March.