Julie Mulligan, Co-owner and Director of Design & Development at Black Tap, talks about her emphasis on art in design as a way to highlight the place’s culture, creativity, and excitement.

In 2015, my husband, Chris Barish, and I opened Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, and I focussed on developing the brand’s design story. About a year later, I became involved with Black Tap in a larger role, serving as a design and project manager for the restaurant’s Midtown New York opening. From there, I became the brand’s Director of Design and Development, overseeing the restaurant’s overall design portfolio, working closely with design teams to manage new openings and take Black Tap’s design to the next level, commissioning local street artists to develop one-of-a-kind artwork for each location. 

When developing the full design plan for each location, we mix up our Soho roots with the energy and spirit of the city or region we were entering to create something that is completely unique yet always clearly Black Tap. We took a lot of our visual inspiration from the iconic collaborations between Andy Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat, a little pop and hip-hop that is familiar yet with a little flare. 

We work with artists to create original murals in each location, and we take a lot of care in picking the right artist for each spot.  We’ve worked with artist Fumero at our OG Black Tap Soho location and also worked with him at Black Tap Vegas where he created four custom murlas throughout the space, including a very inconic Vegas take on the four cace cards. For Black Tap 35th Street we tapped twins How and Nosm. They have done work all over the world and have played a significant part in NYC arts culture. Black Tap Anaheim features murals by Orange County based artist Jason Woodside. He’s a link between NYC and Southern California and his vision felt perfectly aligned for Black Tap at the Downtown Disney District. Outside of the murals, we design each restaurant to fit into its surroundings and community, while keeping true to our DNA, so it was important to have outdoor space in Southern California, to go over the top with the neon at Black Tap Vegas and to take advantage of all the natural daylight at our Singapore location at Marina Bay Sands. Just recently we collaborated with artist Kenji Chai for our new location in Malaysia as he’s spent time in NYC and knows the ins and out of Kuala Lumpur. The hope is that each location offers something new to discover and enjoy.

At Black Tap we put an emphasis on art and design because the art world is full of culture, creativity, and excitement – just like our food! It allows people to be who they want and express themselves. When our customers walk into any Black Tap location they are automatically transformed into a world of creativity and possibilities that allows for memorable times with friends and family along with great food and conversation. 

The art and food world collide more than one may think, just like artists use their imagination on a canvas, our chef uses his imagination in the kitchen. He uses his surroundings to come up with food that reflects our brand from the inside out. The perfect balance between food and art must be real, organic, and make sense. At Black Tap the balance manifests itself in one-of-a-kind food that is familiar and fun – cue our award-winning burgers and CrazyShake® milkshakes that take the nostalgic New York City diner vibes to the next level – with a side of one-of-a-kind art that gives off those same feelings of nostalgia and excitement. 

Design is and continues to be such an important part of our brand, it allows Black Tap to differentiate itself from its competitors by crafting an experience for guests that goes and above and beyond the typical dining experience. Just picture it: 80’s and 90’s hip-hop and pop music, custom street art, and a carefully curated menu taking the classics we love to the next level.