November 16, 2011 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
Heine Brothers and Vint, two popular Louisville coffee shops, are merging into what will surely be local coffee behemouth.
The companies announced the big news Wednesday. Here’s a blurb from Louisville NPR affiliate WFPL:
Heine Brothers was founded 17 years ago by Gary Heine and Mike Mays. Now, Mays has purchased Heine’s interest in the company and will merge the nine shops in his chain with the four in Vint, which spun off from Java Brewing earlier this year. Mays will lead the company, but Vint’s Chuck Schnatter will be a key partner.
I’m a frequent customer at both businesses, which made the merger announcement surprising. I don’t know much about business, so I can’t speak to the financial pros and cons of this decision. But as a customer, I have a hard time grasping these two businesses becoming one.
Heine Brothers is the “My First Local Coffee Shop” of Louisville. Stepping into one of the shop’s Bardstown Road locations as a teenager made me feel I was in on a secret that all the cool kids had known about for years. Heine Brothers welcomes caffeine newbies in with a warm hug and a hot cup of brew (or a hot chocolate, which was all I drank back then). The environment appeals to hipsters and professionals alike. And it was one of the first places in which I learned the importance of supporting local businesses.
Vint, on the other hand, feels like the shop you frequent once you’ve graduated from drip coffee to espresso and Merlot. There’s a more grown-up feel to Vint. It’s a place that will impress a first date or a quiet place to escape from your kids.
The folks in charge say that each shop will keep its separate identities, which helps ease my fears that these two very different coffee houses could lose their personalities in this merger. But will this separate but equal idea be sustainable in the long term? Can two coffee shops thrive in their individuality under the umbrella of one owner?
It’s your turn to chat, readers. What do you think of the Heine Brothers/Vint merger? Take it to the comments.