Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Whither the Tully's crowd?
Since the closing of the neighborhood Tully's in early October, many of the coffee shop's onetime aficionados are feeling bereft. We understand, though we have not seen this with our own eyes, that a few regulars can now been seen gracing spots at the neighborhood Starbucks, perhaps with some discomfort. Others are turning up for their fix at Madison Park Bakery or other existing local coffee purveyors.
But knowing the Tully's crowd as we do, It seems unlikely that many of them are now driving, biking, or bussing to some far-off Tully's location in order to enjoy their brew (the nearest Tully's is almost two miles away, at 746 19th Avenue E. on Capitol Hill). Instead, they are hoping for another neighborhood alternative to take up the slack, perhaps on the very site of the previous Tully's location.
That hope may be in vain, however, since Tully's already was the most significant neighborhood alternative to Starbucks--and in the end the economics of that strategy (and coffee niche) just didn't work here. We've been told by several area merchants who've looked into the matter that the landlord is expecting a level of monthly rent equal to or even higher than what Tully's had been paying. A coffee shop is therefore not a likely outcome unless it is coupled with some other economically viable enterprise (no, not a bookstore).
But don't think that there still might not be viable alternatives here for the former patrons of Tully's. As we noted in our posting on Madison Kitchen, the soon-to-arrive replacement for Park Place Deli, one aim of the new operator is to provide a combination of high-end coffee, good seating, and a strong vibe that may attract some of the neighborhood coffee-house crowd, Tully's or otherwise.
We also received a tip that Madison Park Bakery is looking into stepping up the competition on the local coffee scene. Owner Karen Hofman confirmed the story, saying she and her husband are considering expanding the seating area of the bakery to enhance the ambiance and encourage more of the sit-down trade, including coffee drinkers. She cautioned however that the planning is in the early stages--and something she definitely does not want to do is reduce the size of the back-of-house kitchen, which is already small enough.
So hold on, Tully's fans. All is not lost. There may soon be a couple of new Starbuck's alternatives for you to check out.
As for the old Tully's space, is Madison Park ready for a head shop and marijuana provisioner? That might just be a more economically viable option than what came before.