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Updated Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 08:31 PM

Actor Patrick Dempsey wants to buy Tully’s

By Amy Martinez
Seattle Times business reporter

Dr. McDreamy to the rescue?

Actor Patrick Dempsey, who plays hunky Dr. Derek Shepherd in “Grey’s Anatomy,” said Wednesday he’s leading a group of investors who aim to buy Seattle-based Tully’s Coffee out of bankruptcy.

Dempsey did not disclose the bid’s financial terms, but he promoted it as a way to save 500 jobs and give back to Seattle.

“I’ve always loved this city, and with the purchase of Tully’s Coffee, I plan to spend a lot of time in Seattle and the stores connecting with the community and growing the Tully’s brand,” Dempsey said in a statement. “Seattle may be my home away from home in the very near future.”

Dempsey, 46, originally from Lewiston, Maine, is best known for his role as a surgeon on the TV series “Grey’s Anatomy,” set at the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital. Two years ago, the Metropolitan King County Council honored Dempsey for his real-life efforts to raise nearly $500,000 for Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Jane Pearson, a partner at Seattle law firm Foster Pepper, which represents Dempsey’s group, said a formal offer will be made Thursday. That’s when all bids are due in bankruptcy court, with an auction to follow Jan. 3.

Pearson declined to divulge details about the group or its proposal, saying only, “We believe it’s a very competitive bid, and we’re optimistic.”

Tully’s filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October, listing more than $3.7 million in debts. Tully’s subsequently closed 19 unprofitable locations and now operates 47 corporate-owned stores in Washington and California.

The 20-year-old coffee chain also has partnerships with franchisees and grocery chains throughout the western United States and Asia, although roasting and wholesale operations under the Tully’s name belong to Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.

Tully’s recently described its situation in dire terms when it sought court approval to borrow more money while a sale is being finalized. Without more stopgap financing, it said, the company could run out of cash and be forced to stop operations the week of Jan. 12.

Dempsey’s group is not alone in making a bid for Tully’s. Last month, Tully’s said it reached a deal with private-equity firm Kachi Partners, of Boulder, Colo., to sell the business for $1.5 million in cash and the assumption of about $3 million in past and future liabilities.

Baristas Coffee, which owns six Seattle-area coffee drive-thrus staffed by “attractive female baristas in entertaining costumes,” such as a devil or cat, earlier this month proposed to pay about $1.5 million in cash for Tully’s. It also would take on about $2.8 million in existing liabilities, and issue $6 million in unspecified “negotiable securities” to unsecured creditors and shareholders of Tully’s.

“Our intent is not to turn Tully’s into Baristas. It’s to help Tully’s grow and do what it does well,” said Barry Henthorn, CEO of Kent-based Baristas Coffee. “They did not sacrifice the quality of their product to meet their financial challenges, and I think that’s pretty admirable.”

Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or amartinez@seattletimes.com


The AP
Actor Patrick Dempsey stars in “Grey’s Anatomy.”




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