Crazy milkshake hawker Black Tap’s lawsuit has reached a conclusion: Owner Joseph Isidori has settled the case with 248 Hospitality, an entity that claimed Isidori cut them out of profits from the sugary drinks.
248 initially asked for $25 million in damages, but details on the final terms of the agreement are not public. But as part of the settlement, the popular Meatpacking District outpost of the restaurant, located at 248 West 14th St. between 7th and 8th avenues, has closed, according to a Black Tap spokesperson. It had been “operating as a franchise,” the statement says.
The precise agreement on that location, though, was something that was under contention with the lawsuit. Angela Nicastro, Elenodoros Theodoulou, and Evan Frost of 248 claimed that Frost helped Isidori with the original Black Tap at Soho without a formal contract. Then all four of them agreed to transform the 14th Street storefront into an outpost of Black Tap, the suit claimed. It was previously a sports bar called Game, owned by Nicastro and Theodoulou.
The suit argued that Nicastro, Theodoulou, and Frost were entitled to half the profit of the quickly expanding brand — alleging that they did things like hire PR to bring in influencers to popularize those famous shakes. Isidori countered that they never owned part of the brand and only operated that location as a licensing agreement.
Black Tap declined to say more about the settlement. 248’s attorney did not immediately respond to Eater’s requests for comment.
It’s been quite the run for the $15 viral milkshake. Though Black Tap wasn’t even the first restaurant to create over-the-top milkshakes, the restaurant’s version quickly became the most high-profile version on Instagram. Back in January 2016, the restaurant was reportedly selling about 3,000 shakes a week, adding up to about $45,000 in sales per week. People still line up to order one, and Black Tap has expanded to several more locations and published a cookbook based on the runaway success.
But the rosy origin story that Isidori has touted — that he created the first version of the shake after his wife had an idea for a cotton candy shake — has been called into question a couple times now. The suit’s allegation that PR drove much of the Instagram promotion squashes the idea of organic internet virality, and in March, Black Tap’s former social media manager Brittany Stark claimed that she was the true artistic visionary behind the food sculptures.
Still, none of the drama seems to have deterred the company’s growth. Even after this suit, the company is still planning a new location near Herald Square, opening this fall.