Patrick Dempsey may not be a doctor but he plays one on TV. And he may not be a barista, but he's not just playing one off-screen. While Dempsey may cause some to heat up quickly for his portrayal of the so-called Dr. McDreamy on ABC’s hit medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, he is about to help a whole other target audience stay alert and warm as well.
Dempsey and a few other moneyed partners calling themselves Global Baristas late last week signed a deal to shell out $9.16 million to buy the Seattle-based Tully’s Coffee brand, outbidding local coffee behemoth Starbucks for the honor of taking on the 500 employees of a company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last October. A U.S. bankruptcy court will review the bid on Friday, January 11th.
Tully's fans are positively ecstatic on Facebook about Dempsey playing "white knight" to save the small coffee chain, as the New York Times puts it. As far as Dempsey is concerned, it's a victory for the little guy against the Siren call of the Starbucks logo. "We met the green monster, looked her in the eye, and . . . SHE BLINKED! We got it!" Dempsey tweeted. "Thank you Seattle!"
Dempsey says that Tully's fiercely loyal customers as well as the idea of a coffee shop serving as an oasis to a fast-paced world drew him to owning a coffee chain. It likely didn’t hurt that he grew up in Maine with a coffee-mad father.
The loss shouldn’t feel too painful to Starbucks, which last month told investors it plans to expand its empire to 20,000 cafes worldwide in the next few years from the 18,000 it has now. However, the big coffee brand seemed a tad rattled by Dempsey’s victory, saying that “a final determination on the winning bid won't be made until a court hearing on January 11” and that it is “in a ‘backup’ position" to buy 25 of the 47 Tully's cafes, with another undisclosed bidder making an offer for the remainder.”
Meanwhile, the so-called “green monster” of Starbucks is expanding in emerging markets including Vietnam, promoting its Square mobile payments partnership by selling the card readers, and touting its nearly $1 billion light roast coffee dominance — not to mention taking a little extra effort to appeal to green consumers as part of its sustainability commitment.
Consumers in the U.S. and Canada can now pay an extra dollar for their drinks at Starbucks and get their beverage in a reusable plastic cup in return. When the cup gets used again, Starbucks will give it a boiling rinse and hand out a 10-cent discount. When the cups were tested in 600 Starbucks across the Pacific Northwest in the fourth quarter of 2012, the stores saw a 26% increase in reusable cup usage, USA Today reports.
While environmentalists are happy with the effort in the wake of the chain's revised reusable cup commitment, they are also concerned that human behavior is so entrenched to just throw away the cups, that it could lead to more plastic being out in the environment.
[Photo via Tully's/Twitter]