Local Tully's Coffee sites were shuttered before auction

Actor Patrick Dempsey appears to have made winning bid for chain

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

Updated: January 4, 2013, 5:51 PM

 
photoTully's location in Hazel Dell sits empty after closing its doors at the end of last year.

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photoMost of the furnishings had been removed Friday from the Tully's Coffee location in Hazel Dell, which shut its doors because business was slow. Actor Patrick Dempsey announced Thursday that his company will be buying the chain but not in time for the two locally owned Vancouver franchises and their 20 employees.

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photoPatrick Dempsey says that his company made the winning bid for Tully's Coffee

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Two local Tully's Coffee franchises shuttered for good just days before actor Patrick Dempsey's bid to buy the coffee chain appeared to win out in a bankruptcy auction that included Starbucks Corp.

Dempsey announced Thursday that his company, Global Baristas LLC, made the winning bid for Seattle-based Tully's Coffee. He noted in a KOMO-TV interview that a bankruptcy judge will have the final say on Jan. 11.

Still, Dempsey tweeted, "We got it! Thank you Seattle!"

His company will pay $9.15 million for Tully's and complete the purchase this month after the court hearing, according to a statement issued by Dempsey, whose character Dr. Derek Shepherd was nicknamed "McDreamy" on the TV show "Grey's Anatomy," set in a fictional Seattle hospital.

"I'm thrilled that we won and I'm even more excited about saving Tully's Coffee and its hundreds of jobs," he said.

But the deal did not rescue 20 jobs at two Vancouver Tully's stores, both of which closed Dec. 31. The two stores -- one in Hazel Dell and one in east Vancouver -- were both franchises owned by Vancouver-based Kirkwood & Kirkwood Inc., a development company and parent company of Big Al's bowling centers.

The company closed the stores for several reasons, said Daniel Kirkwood, vice president of Kirkwood & Kirkwood Inc.

"It was a number of factors, including the recession and including Tully's corporate company going through these bankruptcies," Kirkwood said.

Tully's Coffee filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October. The company has 47 company-owned locations and more than 500 employees in Washington and California.

Kirkwood's company opened its first Tully's Coffee in November 2008 in the Hazel Dell Square shopping complex on Northeast 78th Street, west of Interstate 5. The second store opened a month later at 1801 S.E. 164th Ave., in the Eastside Spectrum development, anchored by Big Al's.

Plans for the two empty Tully's stores are unclear. Both are equipped with drive-up windows. The 1,800-square-foot Hazel Dell site is owned by the shopping center's developer, Vancouver-based C.E. John Co. Kirkwood's company owns the stand-alone Tully's in his company's east Vancouver development. He would not comment on plans for the vacant site.

A new branch for Heritage Bank will soon be under construction next door to the former Tully's. Other Eastside Spectrum tenants include Shift Fitness, Hot Yoga, Luxury Salon and Spa, Dot Donuts and the Wild Tiger Restaurant, located along one of Clark County's most-traveled commuter corridors.

Kirkwood said business suffered at his two stores as the news of Tully's corporate struggles spread.

"We decided it was time to close the doors and cease operations," he said.

Actor Patrick Dempsey said he views the small coffee roaster as worth saving.

"Tully's is a great company with committed employees," he said. "I'm confident we will be able to successfully build the brand and help grow the economy."

After Thursday's auction, Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson confirmed his company participated and "is currently in a back-up position" for some of Tully's assets. The final certification of the winning bid won't occur until the Jan. 11 bankruptcy court hearing, Hutson said.

"We have to wait until next week to make sure … it's all finalized," Dempsey told KOMO-TV.

The Starbucks spokesman said his company made an offer for 13 of Tully's company-owned stores in the Puget Sound region plus 12 outlets at Boeing Co. sites. Hutson said another bidder made an offer for all other assets and is in a back-up position for those.

Also in the running was Baristas Coffee, which operates a chain of drive-thru espresso stands featuring female employees in skimpy outfits.

Starbucks also is based in Seattle.

The auction process was not public.


The Associated Press contributed to this story.