Call it Bay Ridge’s newest Empire.
Empire State Bank, which officially opened its Bay Ridge branch in December 2014, celebrated its grand opening with a party at Leo’s Casa Calamari, 8602 Third Avenue, on Tuesday, May 19. The evening of festivities included local businesspeople, employees and guests as they enjoyed food and drink from the local Third Avenue eatery.
President and CEO of Empire State Bank Philip Guarnieri has been thrilled thus far with the new branch and its community. “Brooklyn was a natural for us because we’ve done a lot of lending in Bay Ridge,” he said, as its other branch is in Staten Island. “We saw an excellent opportunity to serve the community and my personal experience is that I’ve worked for banks for many years ago in the Bay Ridge community, so it was just natural to come back to it.”
The community has also embraced the branch. “What is encouraging is that it’s such a vibrant, small business community that we really feel that [they] appreciates us and we appreciate the community because we’ve been a wonderful fit for each other where a lot of these small businesses have a lot of options,” said Executive Vice President Thomas Sperzel. “We try to pride ourselves on being part of the community and when you do that, the community welcomes you with open arms to support you and we’ve had nothing but the warmest experience since we’ve been here so we’re very excited.”
The evening was designed to celebrate the business aspect of the branch, though it already celebrated a soft opening in December and a ribbon cutting in February. “We wanted to do this for the business people, people we’d like to do business with,” said Chairman and CEO Anthony Costa. “We love seeing them and we hope to help them.”
In its early stay in Bay Ridge, the branch has already made in an impact in the community according to the Merchants of Third Avenue. “Empire State Bank has demonstrated that they can be involved in the community, they can both lend to our businesses and landlords as well as being involved as a charitable side to helping out all the various community groups in Bay Ridge that work together to make it the fabulous place that it is,” said Bob Howe, president of the merchants group.
“We’ve been very welcomed here,” added Costa. “It’s been a great experience. We’re very happy here and we hope people here are happy with us. We want to make sure we’re available.”