A man walks past an open Tully’s Coffee store Friday in Tacoma. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A man walks past an open Tully’s Coffee store Friday in Tacoma. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Tullys stores run out of coffee as rebranding looms

The company told managers that it was unclear when coffee deliveries would resume.

Associated Press

SEATTLE — Tully’s Coffee, which once aspired to challenge Starbucks in the global coffee market, is temporarily closing stores citing a lack of coffee as it undergoes what a spokeswoman called a rebranding.

Tully’s project director Krystal Tonning advised managers Thursday afternoon that there was “very minimal coffee left in stores,” The Seattle Times reported Friday.

“Unfortunately, we don’t know how long this will take, so we need to prepare the stores to be closed for a couple days,” she said.

Tully’s spokeswoman Suzy Quinn insisted Friday that the closures were part of “exciting rebranding plans.”

The company, founded in 1992, was purchased out of bankruptcy in 2013 by Michael J. Avenatti — better known today as the attorney for Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who was paid $130,000 in 2016 to keep quiet about an alleged affair with Donald Trump a decade before he was elected president.

“All of the store closures relate to beginning the rebranding process, which takes months,” Quinn said in an email to The Associated Press on Friday. “We had to exhaust all existing inventory for the rebranding.”

Quinn did not immediately respond to an email asking why — if the closures were planned — Tonning described this as “an incredibly confusing, frustrating and simply difficult time” in her email to managers.

“Before we discuss a plan moving forward, we really would like to take a moment to applaud and praise the efforts you have given this past week,” Tonning told staff. “The amount of flexibility, teamwork and overall positive morale given in an incredibly confusing, frustrating and simply difficult time is once again astonishing.”

She added: “As soon as we receive word that coffee deliveries are to resume, we will need to contact employees to notify them of their next shift (sticking to the existing schedule).”

A sign posted in the door of a Tully’s store in West Seattle read: “Due to unforeseen circumstances, we are temporarily closed. We value your business and look forward to serving you again soon.”

Seattle-based Tully’s has had a string of legal and financial troubles, and it closed some stores late last year after being sued for back rent. The company quickly expanded in the late 1990s and 2000s before the stock market’s crash in 2007 scuttled plans for an initial public offering.

In 2010, before its bankruptcy filing, it had 185 U.S. stores and some in Asia. Quinn did not immediately respond to questions about how many Tully’s stores currently exist.

Actor Patrick Dempsey reached a deal to serve as the public face of Tully’s when Avenatti bought it out of bankruptcy, but he quickly backed out and sued his former partner in 2013. Dempsey alleged that Avenatti had not fully financed the coffee chain as promised and instead had borrowed $2 million against Tully’s assets, at an exorbitant 15 percent interest, without telling him.

At the time, Avenatti called the lawsuit “much ado about nothing.” The case was dismissed the week after it was filed by agreement of both parties.

Avenatti is no longer Tully’s owner, but he is the company’s general counsel, Quinn said.

Some of the stores closed Thursday, while others were expected to remain open at least part of the day Friday, Tonning’s email said. She advised managers to pay employees for their full shift Thursday even if the store closed early, and it said workers could “use accrued sick or vacation time for missed shifts while the business is temporarily suspended.”

The Times reported that when a reporter reached Tonning by phone, she hung up after a few seconds of conversation.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Everett Community College's Dennis Skarr sits in front of a 15-foot interactive wall that can replicate a manufacturing company's assembly line, hardware, software and networks on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021 in Everett, Washington. A class taught by Skarr focuses on cyber threats against manufacturers, pipelines, water treatment systems and electrical grids.(Andy Bronson / The Herald)
At EvCC, ‘The Wall’ teaches students how to thwart cyber crime

The Everett college is first in the nation to have a tool that can model cyber attacks aimed at vital infrastructure.

Double Barrel owner Lionel Madriz places a wine sale sign outside of his business on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021 in Snohomish, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Job-seekers today are choosy, forcing employers to adapt

If they even show up, prospective employees are calling the shots. First question: What’s the pay?

Prison and a $273K bill for Snohomish insurance agent’s fraud

Vicki Boser, 58, was sentenced Tuesday to two years in federal prison. She was also ordered to repay clients.

Carpenters from America and Switzerland build the first "modular home" made from cross-laminated timber, inside a warehouse on Marine View Drive on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Affordable housing’s future? Innovative home built in Everett

Swiss and American carpenters built the nation’s first “modular home” made of cross-laminated timber.

The Lab@Everett director Diane Kamionka stands outside the Lab's new home at the Angel of the Winds Arena on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021 in Everett, Washington. When Everett Community College tore down the Broadway mall to make room for its new Cascade Resource Learning Center, The Lab@everett, a business accelerator, also succumbed to the bulldozer. However, the city of Everett found a new home for the TheLab, which serves entrepreneurs and startups: the Angel of the Winds Arena. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Everett business incubator finds a sporty new home

TheLab@everett, an innovation center for entrepreneurs, has relocated to Angel of the Winds Arena.

An illustration of the TerraPower Natrium nuclear-power plant planned for Kemmerer, Wyoming. (TerraPower) 20211201
TerraPower plans to build demo nuclear reactor in Wyoming

The firm, which operates a research facility in Everett, is developing an electricity-generating plant.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson speaks to lawmakers as Michael Stumo, holding a photo of his daughter Samya Rose Stumo, and his wife Nadia Milleron, sit behind him during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on the implementation of aviation safety reform at the US Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. Samya Stumo was among those killed in a Boeing 737 Max 8 crash in 2019. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)
Democrats push FAA for action against certain Boeing 737 Max employees

Rep. Rick Larsen co-signed the letter stating concerns over the “absence of rigorous accountability.”

Local aero firms get $4.5 million from feds to protect jobs

Federal Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Program grants were awarded to six Snohomish County employers.

FILE - In this June 12, 2017, file photo, a Boeing 787 airplane being built for Norwegian Air Shuttle is shown at Boeing Co.'s assembly facility, in Everett, Wash. Boeing is dealing with a new production problem involving its 787 jet, in which inspections have found flaws in the way that sections of the rear of the plane were joined together. Boeing said Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, it's not an immediate safety risk but could cause the planes to age prematurely. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
FAA memo reveals more Boeing 787 manufacturing defects

The company said the problems do not present an immediate safety-of-flight issue.

Homes in The Point subdivision border the construction of the Go East Corp. landfill on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Mudslide briefly stalls housing project at former Everett landfill

The slide buried two excavators in September. Work has resumed to make room for nearly 100 new houses.

Ameé Quiriconi, Snohomish author, podcaster and entrepreneur.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Snohomish author’s handbook charts a course for female entrepreneurs

She’s invented sustainable concrete, run award-winning wedding venues and worked in business… Continue reading

A final environmental cleanup is set to begin next year at the ExxonMobil and ADC properties, neighboring the Port of Everett. Photo courtesy of the Washington State Department of Ecology.
Port of Everett to get $350K for its costs in soil clean-up

The end is finally in sight for a project to scrub petroleum from two waterfront parcels, owned by ExxonMobil and ADC.