The Seattle Times reported that while Dempsey greeted customers and baristas at Tully's stores the morning after his investment group got the nod from a group of Tully's executives, creditors and lawyers over six other bidders, Starbucks officials said the coffee giant and another bidder had offered $10.56 million.
A federal bankruptcy judge is to review the winning bid Jan. 11. Starbucks officials didn't say whether they would formally oppose the takeover by Dempsey's group.
"We're evaluating our options," Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson told the Times.
A source who didn't want to be identified told the newspaper the other bidder involved was AgriNurture, a Tully's franchisee in the Philippines.
Dempsey's group's bid was for all 47 Tully's stores.
"They [Starbucks] wanted to disband the company, and they lost, and they're upset by that," Dempsey said.
Dempsey plays a character best known as "McDreamy" on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," set in Seattle.
"Usually, it's pretend, but this [the bidding] was reality," he said. "There was no one saying, 'Cut!', and no one saying, 'Move this along.'"
Dempsey, who lives in California, said he intends to be in Seattle frequently.
"I love it up here, seeing the rain and the ferries," he said.
He said he won't be the 20-year-old company's chief executive but has ideas for making it profitable, including giving the stores a makeover, boosting morale among the 500 employees and updating the accounting system, the Times said.