Beyond Banking: How an In-Branch Cafe Leads Philanthropic Efforts

by La Macchia Group

Did you know that your financial institution can be designed and built to do more than just banking? Banks and credit unions are now implementing secondary services within their branches that benefit the community.

Having these extra amenities in your financial institution will not only benefit your consumers, but it can expose your brand and the ability to interact with potential new members when you open them to the entire community.

A great example of a financial institution moving beyond the branch is Alden State Bank, who partnered with La Macchia Group to transform their newest branch in East Amherst, New York. There was extra space at the location, and they concluded that it would be best to use it for something the entire community could benefit from. The Bank decided to team up with a local non-profit, F BITES (Food Based Interventions with Technology Energy and Science). Steve Woodard, President & CEO of Alden State Bank, had heard of F BITES’ goals to make a difference in the employment rates, opportunities, and the poverty of the chronically unemployed and underprivileged youth. Woodard reached out to Bobby Anderson, F BITES Founder, to see if he was interested in having a café located in the Alden State Bank branch. He was, and so Alden State Bank carefully chose and engaged La Macchia Group to build a F BITES coffee shop within their branch and the Bank even funded the initial startup costs.


According to Woodard, “Being a community bank is more than just being located in the community, it’s actually being engaged in the community.”

This café is truly helpful to the community because of its focus on workforce development and hiring individuals such as the chronically unemployed and high-risk teens. Many of their employees are drawn from special education programs, women's shelters, and Western New York's diverse communities. Not only does the cafe provide individuals with a job and paycheck, but it continues to give them the steppingstones needed to achieve their dream careers. The café employees can improve their soft skills, like customer service, while building a resume. After all, F BITES’ Mission is “To empower youth and adults to be contributing members of society, inspiring them to plan a successful future through the execution and development of workforce skills, soft skills, hard skills, and exposure to culinary art training.”

As a result of this initiative, Future Branches, the conference for branch & retail banking innovators, announced Alden State Bank as the winner of their Innovators Award for Best Initiative to Promote Financial Inclusion. The award recognized the institution that has set up programs within its various communities with the aim of providing for the unbanked, underbanked or those facing financial hardship. Voting took place live at the Future Branches 3rd Annual Awards Ceremony in Austin, Texas, where the onsite audience chose Alden State Bank, designed and built by La Macchia Group, as the winner of this category.

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