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Update: Heine Brothers, Vint Coffee Merging

The Louisville-based Heine Brothers Coffee and Vint Coffee chains will merge.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.Mays says the merger is not a financial necessity, though he has felt the pinch of the recession.“It's tough," he says. "You know, the small business world is challenging. We feel like this is a way to have a bigger impact and have more fun and do more together than we could competing against in each other.”The 13 shops will retain their staffs and names for the time being. The partners plan to conduct research into both chains over the next few months and that will determine how the merger progresses and whether any shops are rebranded.“We're just not prepared to decide that right now," says Mays. "I'm hopeful that after a week or so of people talking about this, we're able to just get back to business.”A new Heine Brothers will open in January under the merged leadership.Mays says his split with Gary Heine was amicable, and Heine is looking into other activities.The merged entity will continue both chain's philanthropic activities.

Gabe Bullard is the director of news and editorial strategy.