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Losing Bidders Want A Shot At Tully's

Actor Patrick Dempsy
AP Photo/Evan Agostini

The Seattle-based Tully’s Coffee company was sold at a bankruptcy auction Jan. 3. But a number of bidders and stakeholders are contesting that sale. Now US Bankruptcy Judge Karen Overstreet will review the deal.

Global Baristas, the investor group headed by “Grey's Anatomy” television star Patrick Dempsey, agreed to buy all 47 Tully’s stores for $9.15 million. But other bidders are trying to persuade the court to not accept that bid. Patty Edwards is the chief investment officer with Bellevue-based Trutina Financial. She said the fight is so intense because Tully’s has many stores in prime locations. She said the stores located in Boeing facilities are among the most lucrative. “That is just a gold nugget in this otherwise slightly tarnished bowl of fruit,” she said.

Starbucks Corporation submitted a higher bid along with another firm, AgriNurture Inc., for $10.53 million. But Starbucks only wanted 25 Tully’s stores. Edwards said the successful bid from Global Baristas included all the stores and the corporate headquarters.  “It’s a tidier, neater way of doing things even if it’s a lower bid,” she said. “The question is, 'How much is the hassle worth?'”

Edwards said Tully’s financial problems are not reflective of the local coffee scene as a whole. She said coffee remained one of the little luxuries people declined to give up, even during the recession.

Tully’s filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October and subsequently closed 19 unprofitable stores.

Year started with KUOW: 2005