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Dime Bank celebrates opening of Bedford Avenue branch with ribbon cutting

Venerable Long-Serving Neighborhood Bank Opens Full Service Micro Branch on Bedford Avenue

July 17, 2017 By Andy Katz Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Ribbon cutting. From left: Benedette LeoGrande, Anthony Wilson, Meg Helming, Vincent Palagiano, Kate Dobday, Robert Volino, Michael Perez. Eagle photos by Andy Katz
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Brutal heat matched with an equal portion of humidity battered the streets of Williamsburg as managers and executives of Dime Bank completed last minute preparations for a ribbon cutting to mark the formal opening of neighborhood bank’s 27th branch on July 13. In their dark suits and knotted ties, the bankers looked every bit as comfortable as a company of nuns at a bachelor party.

“We want our customers to feel comfortable,” explained Jeff Geneus, sporting a three-piece suit, “but they’re also going to know we’re professionals here.”

“There was nothing like Dime Bank before we opened our first branch over on Havermeyer Street around the time of the Civil War,” Dime Bank Chairman Vincent Palagiano told the audience before cutting the ribbon. “We started out as a neighborhood bank where working people could deposit their money, apply for loans and be treated the way the millionaires were in the established banks.”

The new branch is tiny, barely large enough to contain a coffee shop, on which it was modeled, to fit in the style and culture of the neighborhood. A single ATM commands a foyer that’s only 8 feet wide. Two simple desks command the main office and a side table holds a coffee machine and stacks of literature.

“We wanted something intimate,” explained Marketing Officer Andrew Grippo, “where people could drop by, talk and not feel intimidated.”

“People respond to that fact that we always talk to them,” Palagiano said. “Even when the news is bad — we can’t do the loan, can’t extend credit — we tell people. We call, we let them know and they appreciate that.”

In honor of the new branch, Dime Bank made donations to the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center (WAH) and the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD).  “We’re a new museum,” Kate Dobday, MOFAD partnerships manager explained. “We’re teaching people about food and its interaction with culture. This money will make a big difference.”

Billing itself as a “new kind of museum with exhibits you can taste, touch and smell,” MOFAD programs include the evolution of Chinese-American restaurants, the role of the wok in America and American Food and Immigration policy. WAH Center’s latest exhibit is titled “Illustrating the Visions: Alloys of Art, Poetry, Politics and Philosophy”.

Both institutions received $1,500.

The new branch manager, Anthony Wilson, sported a yellow straw hat topping a light blue three-piece suit, iridescent blue tie and white rose in his lapel.

“I’ve always been grateful to Dime Bank for letting me keep my style,” Wilson said. “People are drawn to it. They talk to me.”

After the ribbon was cut, snacks eaten and beverages consumed, branch staff swapped their business attire for blue, Dime Bank T-shirts and set up a wheel of fortune at the entrance, where passersby could spin for sunglasses, shirts, beach balls or sunscreen, compliments of Dime Bank. An ice cream vendor’s bicycle cart filled with fruit-flavored ices to help assuage the tropic heat was filled and made ready to go.


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