Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tully's to close Monday

In bankruptcy, Tully's will shut "unprofitable" location here

As we reported on our Facebook page this afternoon, Tully's Chapter 11 bankruptcy, announced earlier today, has implications for coffee drinkers in Madison Park.  Sunday will be the last operating day for our neighborhood Tully's.  It is one of eight Seattle-area stores that the company will be closing, according a story in the online edition the Puget Sound Business Journal.  Tully's has been struggling financially for many years (indeed, its ultimate demise has been assumed in some quarters for much of the company's twenty-year history).  Tully's Chapter 11 filing does not mean that the company is going under, however, since a reorganization plan will be developed while the company is in bankruptcy. If the plan is acceptable to the creditors and the court, Tully's will likely emerge in a somewhat slimmed down form. But Madison Park will clearly not be part of Tully's future, whatever that might be.

Though it might have been journalistically correct to enter Tully's this evening to interview the staff and patrons about their reactions to the bankruptcy, we decided that would be gauche.  It's hard, however, not to think about the employees now losing their jobs, as well as those Tully's aficionados who will in future have no coffee-house alternative to Starbucks in the neighborhood. 

Columnist Knute Berger once claimed to see Madison Park as a neighborhood divided along a Starbucks vs. Tully's fault line:

"Starbucks and Tully's are locally founded chains...One is much like the other. But the difference in feel between these two cafes is marked...Tully's embodies some kind of older, village version of Madison Park. Starbucks seems to bustle like a cross between a busy ski lodge and a place where people in office-casual dress take meetings. The Starbucks and its customers seem a little more groomed, more LA, more SUV. Tully's is a bit more neighborly, relaxed. It's old tennis shoes versus the tennis club."

With Tully's gone, how are we going to differentiate ourselves now?

[Tully's is located at 4036 E. Madison Street.]


  1. It's funny how the relatively new development that is fancy-pants coffee and over-stuffed chairs has come to define "new" and "old." This trend did not even exist 25 short years ago and somehow we struggled through.

    And somehow we will struggle through this. In keeping with Bryan's last post on supporting local businesses, go to the Bakery for a cup of coffee.

  2. Very sad for our neighborhood. Put your money where your mouth is if you would like to have variety with the local businesses. Sad to see them go.

  3. Please GOD let's hope another Too Big To Fail bank doesn't open in that location.

  4. More like old tennis club (Tully's) vs new tennis club (Starbucks)

  5. Would you rather have a bank or another empty store front like the Constance Gillespie's building on the next block?

  6. Hopefully a cute neighborhood coffee shop goes in there!! Sad to see Tully's go.

  7. Lesson learned: If a coffee shop does move in, treat it as a business, not your home.

    Buy things and move along. Using it as your living room and bumming free WIFI does not help the store be profitable and it goes bye-bye. Businesses need money coming in. Buying a $5 cup of coffee and taking up space for four hours is counter to that concept.

  8. But that what was so lovely about Tully's - that people could sit down, and talk, in natural light, in a cozy and comfortable setting, with treats and good, hot coffee. Tully's served an important community role, as well as being simply a "coffee store" like Starbuck's. The best cafes have always served in that role - many a novelist has written in the local cafe (from Hemingway to JK Rowling); many a birthday has been celebrated or important meeting convened, romance begun (or ended) at the neighborhood cafe. Tully's was a Clean, Well-Lighted Place. Without such a gathering spot, Madison Park will be much the poorer.

    Starbuck's is a sad ghost of an alternative, cold, loud, dark, fluorescent-lit, off-putting bar scene.


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