‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Star Would Be White Knight for Small Coffee Chain

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Star Would Be White Knight for Small Coffee Chain

He only plays a doctor on TV. But Patrick Dempsey is about to become a real-life coffee magnate.

The actor, best known for playing Dr. Derek Shepherd, the heartthrob nicknamed “McDreamy” on “Grey’s Anatomy,” said on Friday that he had prevailed in an auction of Tully’s Coffee, a bankrupt coffee chain based in Seattle.

His company, Global Baristas LLC, agreed to pay $ 9.15 million for the small coffeeshop chain. The total consideration, including noncash adjustments is closer to $ 10 million, Tully’s chief executive, Scott Pearson, said in an interview on Friday.

Mr. Dempsey beat out a number of competitors, including the 800-pound gorilla in the coffee world, Starbucks. The 46-year-old actor was only to happy to crow about that in a Twitter post late Thursday night:

He also has been making the rounds at Tully’s stores in Seattle, having posed for a picture with an employee at one store on Wednesday and taking a victory tour on Friday.

His bid must still be confirmed by the federal judge overseeing Tully’s Chapter 11 case. A hearing on the auction’s results is scheduled for next week at the federal bankruptcy court for the Western District of Washington.

The bid is a bit of a sidestep for Mr. Dempsey, whose “Grey’s Anatomy” character is a top surgeon at a fictional Seattle hospital. (The show is largely filmed on a studio lot in the Los Angeles area.) While a racecar enthusiast, the coffee bid appears to be his first major entrepreneurial undertaking.

And Tully’s makes for an unusual target. Founded in 1992, the company filed for Chapter 11 protection in October, suffering from a number of expensive leases that it has been otherwise unable to shed. As of late November, it had more than 500 branded retail stores, including about 119 in the United States.

But Mr. Dempsey, who was raised in Maine, has claimed a kinship with the rainy city, having raised money for Seattle Children’s Hospital. Mr. Dempsey said in his statement that he decided to bid for Tully’s a week before Christmas, after learning that many of the other bidders had plans to close many of the company’s stores.

Coffee has also proved a bit of a hot commodity among deal makers of late. The German conglomerate Joh. A. Benckiser spent $ 1.3 billion last year to buy two much bigger java purveyors, Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Caribou Coffee.

Mr. Dempsey’s stated main objective was to preserve as many Tully’s jobs as possible. “I’m thrilled that we won and I’m even more excited about saving Tully’s Coffee and its hundreds of jobs,” he said. “Seattle has been very good to me over my career, and I am honored to have the privilege to own Tully’s and work closely with the company’s employees.”

The actor added that he planned to spend more time in Seattle to supervise his latest venture.

Mr. Pearson, Tully’s chief executive, said that the reaction to Mr. Dempsey’s apparent victory has rallied morale within the company. The bid would serve to pay off creditors and keep most of the retailer’s employees.

“He plans on being very engaged and involved,” he said, cautioning that it’s too early to unveil any immediate plans. “This is a 20-year-old company that needed a kickstart, and Patrick’s really provided that.”


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