Star's Bucks vs. Starbucks

Grey's Anatomy's "McDreamy" claims victory over Starbucks to buy Tully's Coffee chain

Published in CSP Daily News

Patrick Dempsey

SEATTLE -- Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey--dubbed "McDreamy" by fans of the hospital drama--won a bankruptcy auction to buy Tully's Coffee, a coffee chain based in Seattle, reported the Associated Press.

Among those Dempsey beat out is Tully's much bigger Seattle neighbor, Starbucks Corp., which wanted to convert the cafes to its own brand.

Dempsey, whose company Global Baristas LLC plans to keep the Tully's name, declared victory on the social media site Twitter with the message: "We met the green monster, looked her in the eye, and...SHE BLINKED! We got it! Thank you Seattle!"

But Starbucks, which has 18,000 cafes worldwide, said in a statement that a final determination on the winning bid will not be made until a court hearing on Jan. 11. Starbucks said it's in a "backup" position" to buy 25 of the 47 Tully's cafes, with another undisclosed bidder making an offer for the remainder.

The combined bids of Starbucks and the undisclosed bidder come to $10.6 million, above the $9.2 million Dempsey is offering to pay through his company.

Tully's Coffee, which has more than 500 employees and locations in Washington and California, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October, citing lease obligations and underperforming stores. TC Global Inc., its parent company, said in a release Friday that it was "encouraged and excited" about Dempsey's commitment to the chain.

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

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

Separately, Waterbury, Vt.-based Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., which owns Tully's Coffee wholesale business, purchased by GMCR in 2009 along with ownership of the Tully's Coffee brand, issued a statement:

"We are aware that TC Global Inc., the company that owns and operates the Tully's Coffee retail stores, has announced that Global Baristas was chosen as the high bidder in an auction for all of the TC Global assets. It is also our understanding that the U.S. Bankruptcy court will hold a hearing to review the bid on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013.

"We do not expect the anticipated sale of TC Global to have any significant impact on Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc.'s (GMCR's) Tully's Coffee wholesale business, purchased by GMCR in 2009 along with ownership of the Tully's Coffee brand. We cannot speculate on the future of the retail business.

"GMCR will continue to roast, package and sell Tully's Coffee in bags, K-Cup packs and Vue packs in supermarkets, club and specialty stores, online … and in offices and foodservice locations."