Botak Jones founder recovering from heart attack

Mr Bernie Utchenik resting in the hospital after he suffered from a heart attack.
Mr Bernie Utchenik resting in the hospital after he suffered from a heart attack. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MRS ZEE UTCHENIK

The owner of the casual Big Bern's American Grill chain, Mr Bernard Utchenik - better known as Bernie, suffered a heart attack on Feb 1 and underwent heart surgery at Changi General Hospital yesterday noon (Feb 2).

His wife, Mrs Zee Utchenik, said in an e-mail that the "artery to the left side of the heart was fully blocked". Doctors had to insert a balloon catheter through his right wrist to open the artery and insert two stents.

Speaking to The Straits Times on the phone, Mr Utchenik, 65, sounded upbeat and said that the heart attack came without warning.

He says: "There was no pain, but I had been feeling shortness of breath and it was getting worse. Even going from one room to another became difficult. I went to the polyclinic for a check up, and the nurse said that I was showing symptoms of a heart attack."

He is "recovering well", and is expecting to go home on Sunday.

It is business as usual for the Big Bern's American Grill outlets at Toa Payoh North, Timbre+ at one-north and Depot Lane. Mr Utchenik, the creator of the American grill Botak Jones, sold that brand off five years ago.

He says: "My guys are well-trained to handle the food, so things should be fine. We are just hoping that business picks up after the Chinese New Year period."