As can be the usual around Capitol Hill, smaller local changes around big coffee can be the harbinger of things to come.
People familiar with the situation say the longtime Tully’s cafe at 19th and Aloha is set to close later this month. According to court documents, the struggling Seattle-based coffee chain has larger problems.
CHS has found a series of judgments against Global Baristas, the holding company that took over the struggling chain in 2013. They include more than $300,000 owed in taxes to the state of Washington and decisions including a $102,000 judgment for unpaid rent on the company’s Western Ave offices earlier this month.
While we have not yet found any filings related to the lease for the cafe at 19th and Aloha, the cafe’s employees are telling customers the bad news. CHS has questions out to a lawyer representing the longtime property owners and will update when we hear back. A manager at the cafe said he was not authorized to speak with media.
Tully’s representatives from Global Baristas have not responded to our messages.
The cafe in the 1925-built restaurant building was said to be one of the company’s most expensive leases as it underwent financial tumult before its 2013 acquisition. That same year, Starbucks picked the bones to snatch up the space Tully’s had called home at Pike and Broadway. Many old timers wax poetic about a previous tenant of the 19th and Aloha space — the Surrogate Hostess.
Beyond the financial and lease issues, Global Baristas has had an all around bad year in the courts. In October, the company suffered a seemingly uncontested default judgment in a $120,000 sex discrimination case involving a West Seattle barista and a King County Superior Court ruling confirmed an arbitrator’s ruling in an expensive legal tangle with Asia Food Culture Management, the company it has partnered with in a joint venture to bring cafes to South Korea.
Tully’s filed for bankruptcy in 2012 setting in motion the acquisition and, now, its latest round of financial troubles. The case managing its federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings was officially closed in October. We tally 20 cafes currently operating in and around Seattle. In 2012, the company employed more than 400 people.
UPDATE: Tully’s founder Tom O’Keefe supplied some history of the chain’s presence on 19th Ave E — it opened there October 23, 1997.
October 23, 1997. As an aside, sad what is happening to the company and employees.
— Tom T. O'Keefe (@tomtullyokeefe) November 16, 2017