Growing up in New York City was the perfect inspiration for Julie Mulligan to develop a passion for art and architecture. As a young girl, Julie found herself in modern art museums and design stores, sometimes instead of class, marveling over New York’s bustling arts scene and searching for design in every corner.
Mulligan put her passion for New York and her love of art and math into practice in high school, taking architecture classes at the Parsons School of Design and completing her first internship in architecture at Buttrick, White and Burtis. After being dubbed a ‘Star Student’ by Time Magazine in 2001, Julie went on to attend The Rice University School of Architecture, graduating from their BARCH program and working for Allied Works Architecture, NBBJ and The New School.
After working on museums and residential projects, Julie found her true love for design in restaurants and founded JAMB studio in 2014 to focus on hospitality projects. With hospitality, Julie can watch her projects fully come to life, with people gathering and interacting within the space to create memorable moments that transcend a meal.
In 2015, Julie and her husband Chris Barish opened New York burger sensation Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer. From the early days, Julie was influential in developing the brand’s design story. In 2016, Julie 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, she 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 and commissioning local street artists to develop one-of-a-kind artwork for each location. In 2019, Black Tap opened its first California location at the Downtown Disney District in Anaheim and the brand’s new flagship location in New York’s Herald Square.
How does it feel to be behind the most Instagrammed milkshake ever?
JULIE MULLIGAN: It’s very exciting and I’m so grateful for all the love! We’ve gone from a 15-seat burger joint to an international brand in less than five years which has been quite a ride. I remember living for mint chocolate chip shakes when I was a kid and I never could have imagined back then that I’d be here now. Seeing our guests' faces light up and kids' jaws drop when they get a shake and feeling partially responsible for that joy is truly the best.
How do you approach giving each Black Tap a new design feel?
JM: For each location we mix up our SoHo roots with the energy and spirit of the new locale to create something that is completely unique yet always clearly Black Tap. 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. For Black Tap Herald Square, our latest location on 35th street here in NYC, we tapped local New York-based 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 of the natural daylight at our Singapore location at Marina Bay Sands. The hope is that each location offers something new to discover and enjoy.
What's your favorite thing on the menu?
JM: This is a tough one as I love our menu so much. My all-time go-to is the All American, which is our take on the classic cheeseburger. Since we opened at Herald Square with Fried Tenders on the menu I've developed a new habit for those. The Churro Choco Taco CrazyShake is off the charts and somehow disappears in a flash and the Tokyo Lemonade is my current cocktail crush. We also have a new vegan portobello sandwich in the works that is one of the best things I've ever tasted.
Where is Black Tap headed next?
JM: We’re looking at iconic cities and properties around the world. Since Black Tap opened in Singapore last year we are now looking to further our Asian expansion. We have Zurich and other forthcoming locations in Europe and we are in the process of scouting locations in the US as well.
What are some of your favorite NYC spots?
JM: I've had lots of work and late hours lately so I've been hitting "reorder" on pasta from Rosemary's quite regularly, very thankful they deliver to me! Also very much in love with having the ABC restaurants by Jean Georges in my neighborhood and I'm already missing the Supernatural pop-up at Craft. Outside of food, I just checked out the amazing ‘Beyond the Streets’ exhibit (closing end of August) which is well worth the trip to Williamsburg.