Pudding Bar leaves Easton amid a legal battle with the owner. When, where the dessert shop is moving.

After more than a year of heated argument with their owner, Khanisa’s Pudding Bar leaves Easton in hopes of a fresh start at Allentown downtown market.

Co-owners Khanisa and Sean Darby made the announcement last week on the the company’s Instagram page.

“We look forward to making this transition to downtown Allentown,” the post said. “We apologize to all of our loyal Easton customers, but you all need to understand our plight. This move is necessary and will allow our business to thrive as we should.

“We’re going to put everything in this space and can’t wait to add” the Allentown Market, 27 N. Seventh St., the post added.

On October 1, the Pudding Bar will move into space previously occupied by Batch Microcreamery. Batch announced earlier this month that it would close on August 31 at its original location in the downtown Allentown market due to a new “focus on increasing production capacity and distribution”.

Batch’s other two locations currently remain open at Shepherd Hills Golf Club, 1160 S. Krocks Road, Lower Macungie Township, which opened last May, and Trolley Barn Public Market in Quakertown, Bucks County.

Darbys will open with all sundaes at the special price of $10 (normally $14.99) on opening day. This includes the seasonal flavors of Pumpkin Spice Pudding and Sweet Potato Pie.

New to the downtown Allentown market and not available in Easton, alcohol-infused pudding flavors and some vegan options. What remains popular are the customizable pudding cups, in which customers can choose their own layers. The cost of all treats at the Allentown location will be between $8 and $15, Sean Darby said.

The Darbys also plan to continue selling their “Pigs in Dirt” pudding treats at Coca-Cola Park for Lehigh Valley IronPigs fans. The Darbys, however, have since gone out of business at other pop-ups and small businesses where they previously sold. Those sites were temporary when the Darbys closed their Easton location at 118 Northampton St. last April amid safety concerns for customers.

The Darbys have been operating in Easton since August 2016. They then opened with a storefront at 48 West St. Joseph Street on the south side of town. They then moved to 74 N. Fourth St. in downtown Easton before stumbling upon the larger space along Northampton Street. It was an opportunity to expand their business with more seats which led to the move in June 2019.

Previously, the pair sold out at various mall kiosks before investing around $25,000 in their initial brick-and-mortar site.

At the time, owner Borko Milosev was bringing back space at 118-120 Northampton St. that had been vacant for several years after a devastating fire in 1982. The main level would provide retail space for the pudding store and l ne of the 14 apartments under construction would provide the couple and their two sons with a new home.

Khanisa and Sean Darby sit at Khanisa’s The Pudding bar at the Northampton Street location in this October 2020 file photo.File photo of Donna Fisher | contributor lehighvalleylive.com

The Darbys have been in litigation with the various companies Milosev has been involved with since at least September 2021.

They currently have two lawsuits pending. The lawsuits are against 120 Northampton LLC, the owner of the building, and Post Road Management, the management company. Milosev is affiliated with Post Road Entities and is a member of the company that owns the building. The lawsuits seek an undetermined amount in damages.

The lawsuits allege that a falling storm window injured the couple and that they were previously forced to close the pudding store for several months due to water damage caused by a drilling accident in an apartment above above. Additionally, the company’s floors have begun to warp and worsen over time, and there are more issues with an HVAC system, holes in the brick wall or other damage, said the couple.

Sean Darby said lehighvalleylive.com this week, the Darbys remain in litigation over the lease of the Easton building. In fact, the couple currently continue to have two pudding locations – with one site closed – as they work through the issues, he said.

A third case was recently filed by 120 Northampton LLC against Khanisa Darby and her company, as well as Marko Golubovic, a business partner. Steve Williams, the attorney representing 120 Northampton St. LLC, said the case had already resulted in a judgment against the couple for $116,200 in rent and possession of the property. Sean Darby is not a signatory to the pudding store lease, Williams noted.

Williams refuted the Darbys’ claims when he was reached by lehighvalleylive.com this week. He claims the incident with the water damage was the result of another tenant doing renovations and drilling into a water main, and the HVAC system working. Allegations of structural problems, he said, are also baseless.

The Darbys have repeatedly expressed their concerns and frustration to Easton City Council in an effort to find a solution to their problems.

During live broadcast of the May 25 meeting, the Darbys claimed to have invested everything they had in a $140,000 build of the business. They also claimed that code officials ignored their repeated requests to fix the owner’s alleged code violations.

“Everything we put in this space was brand new and we’ve seen it deteriorate over the last three years,” Khanisa Darby told city officials at the meeting. “…I think that’s where the buck stops.”

The Darbys further accused the city of favoring the owner/redeveloper over them as business owners and residents. Sean Darby, who is black like his wife, made racial remarks, suggesting the city would have reacted differently if “an old white lady” had been hit by the falling storm window. This led to an outburst from Mayor Sal Panto Jr., in which he uttered a profanity to counter their accusation, language for which he apologized at the next city council meeting in June.

At the May meeting, Khanisa Darby called for a full investigation into the issues. An internal investigation released in July by city administrator Luis Campos cleared city officials of any missteps in their response to the investigation into the Darbys’ allegations about the city’s handling of the problems.

Sean Darby said lehighvalleylive.com this week, water damage, leading to mold and warped floors, remains.

“We have chosen safety for our family and our customers by not opening,” Sean Darby said of Easton’s closure. “…We lost our home in this building, we don’t feel safe in this building.”

Khanisa’s Pudding Bar will join several other merchants at the Downtown Allentown Market in the center of the Promenade des Arts. There remains one vacancy, which is expected to be filled by The Loaded Plantain, operated by the former owners of Coal Winery and Kitchen in Bethlehem. Jeff Vaughan, spokesman for market owner City Center Allentown, previously said lehighvalleylive.com he expects an opening later this month for The Loaded Plantain.

There are at least six other current providersincluding two of the original nine when the market opened: Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurant Zahra and Tavola, offering artisan pizzas and signature pastas. There’s also Johnny’s Artwalk Diner; Bar 1838; Honmono Sushi and Ciao Sandwich Shop.

hours for Khanisa’s Pudding Bar in Allentown are pending.

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Pamela Sroka-Holzmann can be contacted at [email protected].

Elisha A. Tilghman