Sketched Jan. 30, 2013
Most people know the first Starbucks is at the Pike Place Market. But how about the first Tully’s?
Company founder Tom Tully O’Keefe told me it was in a shopping center near Panther Lake in Kent, but has been closed for more than a decade.
As far as he remembered, the next Tully’s coffee shops opened in Mercer Island, Clyde Hill and Capitol Hill soon after in the early ’90s. The one in Clyde Hill, a city on the Eastside I had yet to visit, used to be his home store when he lived in Medina. That’s where I headed to learn more about the coffee chain that was recently acquired by Global Baristas, an investment group led by TV star Patrick Dempsey.
Asked about what makes Tully’s different from other coffee shops, baristas and patrons told me the coffee is better, the staff friendlier and the atmosphere more intimate.
Janet Hollander, who stops by daily, gave me the most straightforward answer: the Madagascar Vanilla Latte. They don’t make her favorite drink anywhere else.
Coffee shop manager Joel Pearson has fixed drinks for the likes of Steve Ballmer and the Gates family since he started working here six years ago. That’s nothing to be surprised about, he said, given that Clyde Hill and the surrounding communities of Yarrow Point, Hunts Point and Medina rank at the top in the state based on per capita income.
Because of its location right off the 520 Highway, this Tully’s has also become a convenient destination for Seattle and Eastside professionals to meet, said Pearson, who guessed the number of people who spread out on the tables with their laptops in the “hundreds per week.”
Do you feel any strong affiliation to our homegrown coffee-shop chains? I invite you to share your comments here and on my Facebook page.