Starbucks Corp. is heading into the scrum over Tully's Coffee, tussling with actor Patrick Dempsey and "breastaurant" style Baristas Coffee Co. to win control of the bankrupt chain.
It's a true Seattle battle: Starbucks, Tully's and Baristas are all based in the Washington city. Dempsey's McDreamy character on the television show "Grey's Anatomy" is based there.
Starbucks confirmed Thursday that it is participating in an auction for Tully's but declined to say more, saying it was "respecting the Seattle Bankruptcy Court's request for confidentiality."
Tully's parent company, TC Global Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October, citing struggles with profitability. The company owns 47 stores in Washington and California and has closed at least 19 since the bankruptcy filing.
Last week, Dempsey announced his interest in Tully's, presenting his bid as a job-saving tactic for Seattle.
Earlier in December, Baristas – often dubbed the "Hooters of Coffee" for its provocatively dressed female employees – offered $10.4 million for the chain in a court filing. Baristas owns six Seattle-area coffee drive-throughs as well as stops in Arizona, Texas, Florida and Montana.
TC Global entered into a "stalking horse" agreement with Colorado private equity firm Kachi Partners in late November.