“I am very happy about the positive impact on my credit score. Credit-building was important to me and part of why I took out the loan. Between paying down student loans and paying off the first Employee Opportunity Loan, my credit score is increasing.” — Jessica, Administrative Assistant at BronxWorks and Employee Opportunity Program client. 

The financial wellness of your employees matters. It matters to their families; helping to relieve stress, the ability to succeed at work, and to plan for a comfortable retirement. Unfortunately, as inflation rises, a steady salary in New York City does not always mean financial stability. From unmanageable student debt, to medical bills, unforeseen family expenses, and retirement, money remains the number one cause of anxiety for Americans. The data tells the story: 67% of Americans earning over $50,000 would have trouble paying for an unexpected $1,000 expense.

That’s why we know the Employee Opportunity Program can be an essential part of your commitment to your employees; consider it a core part of your larger employee benefits package. Through our Employee Opportunity Program, you can help your employees learn to build credit, receive free financial counseling, cover unexpected expenses, use our Employee Opportunity Loan, and plan for the future without taking on high-interest debt.

We are proud to be a financial wellness partner with over 38 business and nonprofit organizations across New York City, including: BronxWorks, The Doe Fund, Jetro/Restaurant Depot, UnCommon Goods, Floating Hospital, Greyston Bakery, and Grand Street Settlement House. Over 3000 New York City employees have taken advantage of our Employee Opportunity Program. They are now experiencing an increase in their credit scores, a clearer understanding of their financial picture, and more peace of mind. The program starts with one-to-one financial management, and opening a personal savings account. 

“Spring Bank helped me get my bills in order through the Employee Opportunity Loan Program. Katherine was on the phone with me step-by-step to apply for the funds as I often get anxious with the computer.  There was no stupid question and she helped my co-worker, too. Katherine is very patient, and I’m so glad I worked with her,” shares Jereny V., Sr. Case Manager at The Doe Fund and Employee Opportunity Loan Program client.

Katherine Martinez, Consumer Lending Associate, and our Consumer Lending Team will help you and your employees with every step. We’ve built a custom, easy-to-use loan platform with our fintech partner that’s accessible on mobile, too. Jessica, Bronxworks Administrative Assistant and Employee Opportunity Loan Program client, has recently taken advantage of our Employee Opportunity Loan twice to cover moving expenses. She shares about her onboarding experience:  

“It was easy to apply and fill out the required documentation. Spring Bank got back to me quickly, and once the documents were processed, it was only a few days before the money was deposited.”

Not only did Jessica receive the funds she needed to cover her relocation costs in only a few days, but she also saw a steady increase in her credit score. 

“I am very happy about the positive impact on my credit score,” explains Jessica. “Credit-building was important to me and part of why I took out the loan. Between paying down student loans and paying off the first Employee Opportunity Loan, my credit score is increasing.”

Let your employees know you care in a tangible way. Help them access funds to manage unforeseen expenses and avoid cycles of debt and stress. Join our Employee Opportunity Program. Watch a short animation about our commitment to the future of employee financial wellness as a community bank in New York. 

Looking for other types of personal loans NYC? We offer credit-building personal loans and can help you apply for a personal loan, too. Reach out to our team for more information.  

 

In Partnership with GreenPath Financial Wellness 

As the summer months approach, unplanned expenses, such as summer camp, beach days, and new sandals for your kids, may sneak up on you and take you off budget. Get ahead of summertime costs now by using a budgeting tool. Whether you prefer an app or the back of an envelope, here are a few tips as you consider both digital and analog tools:

Prioritize Accordingly

There are many financial resources designed to make money management stress-free, but regardless of what budgeting tool you choose, consider the following features:

  1. Goal Setting 

Creating and reaching financial goals for yourself is why most of us budget in the first place! Support this aspect of your financial story by choosing a tool that allows you to set goals, whether saving up for a milestone purchase or paying off credit card debt. Choose a tool so you can monitor your progress and edit your goals when circumstances change.

  1. Methodology

Based on your goals, you may use the traditional envelope system or focus on zero-based budgeting. Choose a system that offers flexibility, allowing you to experiment with different methods until you find the one that works best for you.

  1. Affordability

Before you commit to a paid subscription, research free or free trial periods of budgeting apps to determine whether the functionality is worth the cost. Many apps offer free features (like goal setting) with the option to upgrade later to unlock additional features.

  1. Security 

Given the sensitive nature of financial information, security is essential when choosing a budgeting tool. Ensure that the app employs enhanced security protections such as encryption, multi-factor authentication, and regular updates and notifications to protect your financial data from unauthorized access. Learn more about our commitment to your financial security in this great YouTube series.

  1. Interface

User-friendly, intuitive design ensures you can navigate the app effortlessly, saving you time and frustration. Look for apps that allow you to quickly input transactions, set budgets, and track your spending without a steep learning curve. Some apps even offer interactive tutorials to guide you through the setup process.

 

Before investing time into learning or creating a new budgeting tool, check out a few free resources that can help you with summertime spending. All customers have access to the following:

  • Spring Bank Mobile App for instant access to your personal savings and checking accounts online
  • Free financial counseling with our partners at Ariva & GreenPath Financial Wellness
  • Free access to Autobooks for all customers with a small business bank account
  • One-to-one customer service. If you need help creating your financial goals or getting clearer on how to achieve them, our team is here to help you. Visit us in person, or give us a call at 718.879.5000

 

Announcing the promotion of Akbar Rizvi, President & Chief Lending Officer
A Spring Bank Staff Feature

We are excited to announce the appointment of Akbar Rizvi, our Chief Lending Officer (CLO), to President and CLO. Akbar will serve in both roles as we expand our reach and impact across New York City.

Spring Bank is on the cusp of tremendous growth and change, with our newest commercial real estate office in Queens, our first Brooklyn location set to open this year, and plans to open our second South Bronx location. Akbar is excited for the future and proud of how far the bank has come and the growth he has helped to foster over thirteen years. It’s our customers’ stories and dedication to their businesses that motivate Akbar daily.

“I’m so proud of the work we do at Spring Bank. One of my favorite parts is listening to our customers’ stories, backgrounds, and what they’ve been through. We’ve helped our clients through some very difficult situations that otherwise would have led them to lose a property or end up in a challenging financial situation. We look to be a partner and provide guidance and support to our clients, and we strive to do this with clarity and honesty,” says Akbar.

The oldest of four, Akbar grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens, in a three-bedroom apartment with ten family members. His family’s work ethic and first few job experiences solidified the values Akbar abides by today: commitment, active listening, win-win negotiation, and always leading with empathy, honesty, transparency, respect, and trust.

“I grew up in a hard-working, working-class family. My parents held numerous jobs, and they didn’t take days off. No matter what was happening, they got up and went to work the next morning,” Akbar explains.

At age 12, Akbar started selling newspaper subscriptions. He also became a messenger for a travel agency and took on odd jobs. But it was his first restaurant job that changed the trajectory of his life; starting on his first day, he saw the power of his professional drive and the fruit of his hard work.

With zero industry experience, Akbar applied to be a busser at a high-end restaurant on Long Island overlooking the sound. The manager met him but told him he needed prior experience and to apply elsewhere. But as Akbar drove home, he realized he wanted that job. So, he turned around, went back to the restaurant, and, without a plan, asked to speak to the manager again.

“Before he could say anything,” Akbar shares, “I said, look, I know I don’t have experience, but I’ll work here for free for a week. And if you don’t like it, if I’m not working the way you want, then no issues, but give me a chance.”

Seeing his determination, the manager hired Akbar on the spot and, after his first day, promoted him from busser to food runner. He worked his way up at the restaurant for five years, paying his way through college.

“That moment changed my life. I didn’t have a plan, but I knew I didn’t want to give up. Not only did I get that job, but I also excelled at it. It showed me not to give up. People might pass on you, but you have to push yourself and fight for what you want. And you can’t be willing to give up so easily if it’s something you really believe in,” shares Akbar.

We are so grateful Akbar carries this ethos into his banking profession and leadership with us today. After graduating from the CW Post Campus of Long Island University through the Higher Education Opportunity Program, he worked for five years at a midsize bank in Manhattan. Quickly promoted to Loan Officer, he launched, developed, and ran the ins and outs of their first SBA, small business program. Then, in 2011, he was introduced to our CEO, Demetris Giannoulias.

“The synergy between us was instantaneous. It felt like the right partnership,” explains Akbar. “I was inspired by Spring Bank’s mission of financial inclusion in the South Bronx, and I was looking for a challenge. I knew I could continue learning with this team.”

Though some friends and colleagues found it odd for Akbar to transition from a billion-dollar-plus bank in midtown Manhattan to a small community bank in the Bronx, he knew it was an incredible opportunity—and he’s never looked back. He’s committed to creating access to affordable capital for entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and people who have been excluded from the financial system.

“Our customers are not customers who fit into checkboxes. Many have faced adversity and do not have perfect credit profiles. So, we do our best, do our due diligence, and think outside the box, to see if and how it can make sense. Because we don’t do cookie-cutter deals, our approach requires patience, listening, and understanding of the borrower’s unique situation and requests,” explains Akbar.

The innovative and human-centered approach Akbar and our team apply to commercial, consumer, small business, and non-profit lending allows many of our customers to receive the capital and credit-building tools that they may not be able to receive elsewhere.

“Our personalized approach is so important because the South Bronx is still the poorest congressional district in the United States. So, imagine getting a loan or establishing a credit profile,” explains Akbar. “When someone comes to us and improves their credit profile, it can make a significant difference down the road.”  

To support our customers, Akbar, and our lending teams have spent many years creating and adapting products that do not require a credit score or income verification and can often help people establish and build credit, like our Credit Builder Loan. We also accept the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and IDNYC as identification for opening bank accounts and conducting other banking transactions. Akbar and our team are always here with an open door to help you navigate your financial journey and answer your questions.

Thank you to Akbar for sharing your story and for your continued leadership and service to our community! Learn more about our unique commercial real estate and small business programs. Find out why we are the best community bank in New York

Kathryn C., An Assistive Technology Loan Client Feature in Partnership with National Disability Institute

Kathryn C., a resident of Jamestown, NY, and one of our Assistive Technology Loan Program clients, reached out to her online community for support when she was looking for help purchasing an accessible van for her wheelchair. After several knee surgeries, Kathyrn realized she needed to use a wheelchair more regularly.

“When my husband passed six years ago, I couldn’t go up and down the stairs anymore. I knew I needed to use a wheelchair, and to find an [accessible] van, too,” shares Kathyrn.

After discovering Mobility Works, one of the leading dealers of wheelchair vans, Kathryn picked out a 2015 Town & Country, five-passenger van. With a side ramp that deploys, she can come into the van and drive securely with her wheelchair stabilized by a custom lockdown system; the van also has a second lockdown system for passengers. Kathryn wasn’t certain, however, that she could afford it. Thankfully, a family member led her to our partner, National Disability Institute (NDI), and our Assistive Technology Loan Program.

Through the partnership with NDI and the Assistive Technology Loan Program, individuals can purchase assistive technology devices they need without incurring high-interest debt. Kathryn was approved for a loan of $37,000 to cover the cost of the modified van.  After being denied by her bank, she was surprised to be approved for a 10-year loan at a 4% interest rate.

“Spring Bank was wonderful. The Assistive Technology Loan Program is the only way I could have purchased the van. I was even able to purchase the extended warranty, and all of it was done online,” explains Kathryn. “I got my independence back. I really don’t know what I would have done without this opportunity.”

With an accessible van to support her day-to-day mobility, Kathryn is grateful to no longer rely on transportation buses, which often require long waiting times, and to relieve her daughter of caretaking, too.

“My daughter was my aide and working for me, and it was great to spend time with her. But now she can spend time with me as my daughter,” shares Kathryn. “It’s so great to take myself to therapy once a week and do my own shopping.”

Kathryn feels ready to move back to her hometown to be closer to her family.

“My parents are aging, and I really miss the water. I grew up on the water,” she says. “Now I can go anytime I want.”

Learn more about the details of the Assistive Technology Loan Program and our partnership with National Disability Institute. If you or a loved one are in need of assistive technology products or devices that can improve your independence and quality of life, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

New Heights Dental: A Spring Bank Small Business Feature

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Dr. Eva Lebron was always destined for a healthcare medical career. Her mother, a medical technologist, and the only daughter of five to pursue academics, encouraged Eva and her sister to study hard and dream big.

“My mother came from humble beginnings, and at 17 years old, she pushed us to go to medical school. The day after the prom, I was on a plane to the Dominican Republic for the first day of med school. I think she was trying to realize something larger for herself through our experience,” shares Dr. Lebron. 

Dr. Lebron quickly realized she wanted to pursue dentistry. She completed her dental degree in 1984 with a vision of bringing her skills and starting her own practice in the United States. After studying at Georgetown University and finishing her education at NYU, she opened her office within weeks of graduation. In 1991, Dr. Lebron founded New Heights Dental Office, a thriving dental practice in Washington Heights, Manhattan. 

“I’ve never regretted pursuing dentistry because I love what I do. Even during the most challenging moments of the business, I love treating patients, and I hope to do it for many years to come,” says Dr. Lebron. 

Twenty years ago, Dr. Lebron expanded her dental practice to include the apartment next to the dental office, doubling capacity. With the support of two dental hygienists, clinicians, and other staff, New Heights Dental regularly served between 50 and 70 patients daily. When expensive overhead costs strained the business, she successfully pivoted. She adapted her business model to take on work she loves, like more extensive surgeries and implantations, giving her more flexibility, and increasing profits. The hard work she puts into the business rewards Dr. Lebron and her team through long-standing patient relationships. 

“Many of my patients feel like family, returning year after year with their children and extended family members. We sing together, and we dance from time to time. I’m grateful to have positive relationships with most of our clients,” shares Dr. Lebron. “And I’m still blessed, thank God, to have new patients coming in the door every day.” 

After meeting Josefa Ruiz, our Branch Market Manager, they quickly became friends and established a client relationship. Dr. Lebron moved her business banking relationship and small business accounts to us 15 years ago. With two businesses in Washington Heights, New Heights Dental and New Heights Esthetics and Wellness, her pursuit of success and growth is unstoppable. We proudly support her as her small business partner and a community bank in Bronx, New York. 

“It is the best to have somebody you know and trust as your banker,” says Dr. Lebron. Josefa, and everyone at Spring Bank take care of everything and are just one phone call away. They are always on top of every transaction with my business, even small details like the continuity of my signature. The Spring Bank team has my back.” 

An entrepreneur through and through, Dr. Lebron launched her second business, New Heights Esthetics and Wellness, and opened a new business bank account with us, including a business checking account.

Currently, New Heights Dental accepts new PPO patients. Learn more about their dental services here: https://drevalebron.com/. Follow them on Facebook.  Book your next facial at New Heights Esthetics and Wellness here. Learn why when you open your small business accounts with us, not only do you have a banker, but you also have a partner.

Los Primos Meat Market, A Small Business Client Feature

Since 1987, Los Primos Meat Market has worked behind the scenes of the restaurant industry, providing hundreds of Dominican, Mexican, Colombian, Ecuadorian, and other Latino restaurants in New York City with farm-sourced meat, poultry, and dry goods products. As one of the oldest meat distributors in Brooklyn, they have built direct relationships with butchers and farmers across the country and a high-touch delivery process for their restaurateurs.

Juan Raul Espinal, co-owner and operator of Los Primos Meat Market, never intended to make the family business his full-time career. But after stepping away for a few years to pursue his undergraduate degree and consulting work, he knew corporate life wasn’t for him. He came back to the business his father started and, twenty-four years later, has a vision for the company’s growth over the next two decades. He manages day-to-day managerial tasks, logistics, and operations, including overseeing 30 employees and the distribution of nine trucks across four New York City boroughs.

“When I am at work, I am still kind of at home. Running a business has a lot of positives, like not having to answer to corporate America. I also appreciate the ability to expand and grow our customer base and profits at our own pace,” says Juan.

With over 70 long-term customers, Los Primos Meat Market is still recovering from the supply chain impacts associated with the pandemic. For example, the team had to find creative solutions for the numerous out-of-stock ingredients, offering their customers alternative items.

“The costs for everyday grocery items like dried spices and take-out containers are still high because the supply was very low. Pricing has gone down a little, but not much; they are still high compared to before 2020,” explains Juan. “Thankfully, though, business is finally starting to pick up again.”

We are proud to have weathered the storm together, supporting Los Primos Meat Market since 2010. They first approached us for a small business loan, using the working capital to triple the capacity of their warehouse freezers and refrigerators. After experiencing our personalized approach to banking as one of the only community banks in Bronx, NY, they moved their business checking account and opened a new business bank account with us, too.

During the pandemic, we also helped them manage and receive the EIDL and PPP loans. “Spring Bank is very accommodating. They are much easier to work with than a corporate financial institution. For example, they stay on top of every daily transaction. If anything in our accounts looks off, they give us a call to warn us. It’s this type of service from a community bank that we would not likely experience from a big bank,” says Juan. “We highly value this as a small business with a value of personalized service, too.”

The longevity and growth of small businesses in the Bronx and across New York City are core to our mission. We do not take it lightly that family-owned businesses like Los Primos Meat Market trust us with their accounts, and we do our best to ensure they have what they need to thrive in the competitive New York City business landscape.

Visit Los Primos Meat Market and learn more about how your restaurant can source the highest quality ingredients. As you consider your choices among banks in NY, we hope you will consider our small business accounts and commercial lending opportunities. Please contact us here to learn more about how we can help your business create more capacity and scale for years to come.

Primary Information: A Spring Bank Nonprofit Feature

A Brooklyn-based organization and one of our nonprofit clients, Primary Information, works to “advance the often-intertwined relationship between artists’ books and arts’ activism,” by publishing artists’ books and writings at affordable rates to the public and creating a platform for historically marginalized artistic communities. Building on the tradition of the artist book medium dating back to the 1960s, Primary Information is committed to democratizing the distribution of artists’ books.

“Executive Editor and Artistic Director James Hoff started the press with Miriam Katzeff back in 2006 with the idea of bringing long out-of-print, inaccessible publications back into circulation at affordable prices by creating facsimile editions, working to reproduce the original publications as closely as possible to their original form— including matching the original paper stocks as closely as possible,” says Matthew Walker, Executive Director of Primary Information.

They also work with contemporary artists to commission new publications, facilitating intergenerational dialogue with historical publications that remain of critical relevance to contemporary conversations and welcoming the next era of readers.

“Part of our mission is to foster diverse conversation between these historical publications and newer generations of artists working at the vanguard of contemporary practice,” explains Matthew.

The artist list at Primary Information is extensive and includes Pippa Garner, author of the 1982 Better Living Catalog, who has had a recent Renaissance in her career and whose book is already in its third printing since being published in facsimile form in June 2023. The organization’s most recent title, On and Off-Screen Imaginaries by contemporary artist Tiffany Sia, is a collection of six essays written in the wake of the 2019-2020 Hong Kong Protests. Check out their complete catalog here.

The Primary Information team continually reflects on how they can create a more inclusive experience for readers, starting with affordable prices. For example, the price range for a publication is $10 to $40. And $40 gets you a lot for your money: a 600-page, full-color book. Their subscription program, priced at just $125 for the year, is a deal, shipping every book they produce to subscribers for a calendar year.

“We price our books at cost with the aim of breaking even on the production costs of the books, so we have to supplement our sales revenue with grants and donations. We have a generous community who supports our mission to make artists’ books affordable and accessible,” says Matthew.

Primary Information has been a nonprofit customer since 2018, and we are proud to be part of their community.  As a community bank in Bronx, NY, they knew we prioritized the needs of the city’s hardworking small business owners and nonprofits.

“Spring Bank is very supportive of small businesses, and they give lines of credit to organizations that might not otherwise be able to get one, including nonprofit organizations like us,” says Matthew. “Our line of credit was invaluable to helping us navigate cash flow, especially when our budget was smaller.”

It was also our pleasure to support Primary Information through the pandemic with PPP lending and to offer them one-to-one support when they need it. Despite the distance between their offices and our branches in the Bronx, they have never found an issue with accessing the services they need.

“It is so rare to have a personal relationship with your banker these days,” says Matthew. “We use the app and online mobile banking platform daily and have never had an issue doing business in different boroughs than the branch.”

We hope you will take the time to learn more about Primary Information. You can also read more about how we can help your nonprofit manage cash flow through a line of credit or nonprofit checking account. Our nonprofit checking account benefits include no maintenance fees, remote deposit capture, mobile deposit, and personalized service. And if you’re a small business owner, we have what you need via our business checking account or another one of our small business accounts.

Spring Bank Staff Feature, Yahaira Peralta, Operations Clerk

As one of the few community banks in Bronx, New York, our team is the heart of our institution, each member contributing to the success of our mission. Today, we spotlight Yahaira Peralta, Operations Clerk, who has been an integral part of our team for the past three years.

Yahaira’s journey began as a teller during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the unusual and difficult circumstances, her dedication and passion for people’s financial wellness shone through. After three years of exceptional service, she was promoted to her current role as an Operations Clerk.

In her day-to-day responsibilities, Yahaira verifies checks, handles online banking, and assists with online account openings.  As we continue to grow, so do Yahaira’s responsibilities. She is enthusiastic about embracing new challenges and seizing opportunities to expand her knowledge base in the financial industry, including helping our clients by supporting them once they’ve opened a new business bank account.

“I miss working with our customers one-to-one, but now I am learning something new, and I am growing professionally at Spring Bank,” she says, reflecting on her promotion.

Banking has been a long-held dream for Yahaira since she moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic. Relocating to New York City fourteen years ago, Yahaira overcame language barriers and developed her career step by step.

“For me, banking has always been one of my dream professions. I saw people who could manage money and wanted to build that skill and offer it to others,” she says.

A friend recommended us to her, igniting her interest in community banking. One of her current goals is to continue working toward her bachelor’s degree, and she sees Spring Bank as a place to foster growth in various areas, especially within the operations department.

A deeply spiritual person, Yahaira believes that when you pursue something with all your heart, the universe helps to guide you. Her journey exemplifies this belief and is a testament to the values of dedication, growth, and community that define us here at Spring Bank.

“If you want something, you can get it. You just have to work hard for it,” Yahaira shares.

Customers at Spring Bank perceive our team as more than just bankers; they see us as part of their family. Yahaira values the personal connections she’s created with clients, allowing her to understand their unique needs and concerns.

“Customers come to you like you are a part of their inner circle. They see that we are here every day for them. They take the time to share their experiences and problems because they know we are going to take care of them. It’s nice that they can rely on us,” she shares empathically.

Working as a teller, Yahaira recalls her customers’ appreciation when they wanted to open a checking or open a personal savings account but didn’t meet the requirements, and she would work with them on the necessary steps to qualify. Her customers were grateful for the type of one-to-one guidance bigger banks in NY don’t typically offer.

“It’s good to open an account with us because we can closely monitor and manage your money — faster than a bigger bank. We see transactions daily and can provide customer service on the spot. We are more likely to avoid problems, such as fraud, with your account this way,” Yahaira says.

If you are ready to experience the exceptional service of a community-focused bank, contact us!  Stop by a branch or call us at (718) 879-5000.

Kings Co. Imperial — c/o Leisurely
Kings Co. Imperial — c/o Leisurely

A Small Business Client Feature

If that image above didn’t already make your mouth water, we want to warn you that by the end of our feature of Kings Co. Imperial, you will most likely be hungry.

Kings Co. Imperial marries a farm-to-table philosophy with a Brooklyn-style spin on traditional Chinese food. Their unique philosophy? Offer home-style traditional Chinese food with a creative cocktail program and an eclectic vibe. As Jacob Dean wrote in a 2018 article for the Michelin Guide, “Josh Grinker and his business partner Tracy Jane Young made a name for themselves by serving up a menu that didn’t pull its punches.”

We agree. Kings Co. Imperial’s menu punches include dim sum: sesame shrimp toast, Chinese hanging pork ribs, and bok choy potstickers; dishes like Dan Dan Mian (preserved mustard stem, Sichuan pepper, chili oil, minced pork, peanuts), Ocean Wealth Shrimp (baby shrimp, smoked tofu, snow pea, egg, ginger) and many classics, too. They serve dishes from multiple regions of China, including Canton and Sichuan, and don’t forget their beverages.

“Our fruit, herb, and edible flower garden supports our robust and enticing cocktail program, and we do our best to use fresh herbs and juices as often as we can,” says Tracy.

With three locations—Lower East Side, Downtown Brooklyn (for take-out and deliveries), and Williamsburg, they became a hit quickly. We are proud to be part of their small business growth story.

Kings Co. Imperial chefs and owners Tracy Jane Young and Josh Grinker, met in culinary school 20 years ago and trained under the same master Sichuan chef. Later, they traveled to China together, learning and honing their skills. They discover a shared love and passion for the craft and highly technical, diverse cuisine—the most technically difficult cuisine to master in the world.

“China has more recipes than any other country in the world because there is so much originality,” explains Josh. “It’s like the mother source of South Asian cuisine, all other Asian cuisines stemming from China.”

After traveling throughout Southeast Asia and China and working for some of the best restaurants in New York City, including 11 Madison Park, River Cafe, and Nobu, Josh knew he wanted to open his own Chinese restaurant. He approached Tracy, who was traveling the world as a chef on a superyacht, and at first, she thought he was crazy. She wasn’t sure why anyone would come, but also knew she had to find out, and in 2015 they opened their first location in Williamsburg. Eight years later, they still love it.

“We don’t pretend to be experts and we’re not classically trained Chinese chefs. We feel lucky to be able to continue learning and cooking a cuisine that we love,” says Josh.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Josh reminisces about eating Chinese food with his family.

“When we could afford to celebrate a special occasion, we went to Chinatown, eight or six of us around a table,” says Josh. “It’s a special culinary experience for me and the cuisine that makes me most excited to cook.”

Dedication and commitment continue to pay off for Kings Co. Imperial. In 2016, they made the Micheline Guide, and they never closed their doors during the pandemic. They continue to grow and expand. Through our commercial real estate loan program, Kings Co. Imperial bought their Williamsburg location, and they plan to purchase their next property, too.

“This is truly beyond our wildest dreams — to own our own building. Five years ago, we were looking down the line at the end of our rental extension. And now, we own our flagship. We are so grateful to Spring Bank for helping us get the loan process done so quickly,” says Tracy.

“Spring Bank went out on a limb for us.  Our financials are strong, but we didn’t have a lot of cash, so they allowed us to put only 25% down, which is less than most commercial real estate deals,” says Josh.

The next plan is to buy the building next door, which they already rent, and own contiguous buildings with almost 3500 square feet. The plan is to expand private dining options, host more events like their dumpling classes, and continue to support their local followings.

“Rising tides lift all boats; the community can support the businesses, and the businesses can support the community,” says Tracy.

We couldn’t agree more.

Visit Kings Co. and check out their menu.
Learn about the Kings Co. Imperial garden and read their Michelin Feature.

Learn more about our commercial real estate program and how we can help your business grow through a business checking account or business bank account.

Announcing the Launch of Clubhouse Café

Starting as a grassroots soccer program, South Bronx United has transformed from a soccer program into a multifaceted organization— expanding its services far beyond the soccer field and now serving over 1600 young people and their families. From offering academic and career support to social work and immigration services, South Bronx United is a community resource.

At Spring Bank, we’ve had the opportunity to work and partner with many committed Bronx-based nonprofit organizations. As one of a few community banks in Bronx, New York, we take seriously our role as lender, banker, and financial partner. Today, we are introducing South Bronx United, their youth empowerment work, and the exciting launch of their new Clubhouse Café!

“It’s about reevaluating what the community needs, what’s working well and what’s not, how we can do better to serve the students and families we’re already serving and who are we missing as well,” says Andrew So, South Bronx United’s Executive Director.

Realizing that young people faced many barriers after leaving the soccer field, South Bronx United combined the recreational sports program with professional development programs. By tapping into the passion for soccer, the organization engages young people and finds innovative ways to support their diverse needs.

In 2010, the second year of the soccer program, South Bronx United started offering free after-school tutoring and college prep nights. The coaches also served as mentors and teachers, discussing the value of academics and developing leadership skills.

“We provided the students a chance to compete, practice, play in a league, and then we realized pretty quickly that we could do a lot more and have a much bigger impact than just soccer,” Andrew says. “It’s powerful when you start with what a young person loves to do or what they’re really interested in. That’s what really engages them long-term.”

Additionally, South Bronx United recognizes the importance of holistic and family support. Their first full-time hire was a social worker.

“Even if they have a supportive family, these kids need reliable adults outside the home, especially in more challenging environments. We aim for them to feel comfortable here,” Andrew emphasizes.

In addition to their youth programs, they offer adult and family services, including immigrant and citizenship services, social gatherings, job boards, workshops, and more.

“To serve the youth, you also have to serve the family. To provide stability to a young person means helping the family find stability, too,” Andrew states.

South Bronx United’s newest endeavor is their Clubhouse Café, a “social enterprise operated by Bronx youth.” As part of their 3,000-square-foot clubhouse, where they run programs, host classrooms, and run practices on an indoor mini-soccer field, they now host a community café.

In addition to delicious coffee and treats, the Clubhouse Café serves as a training ground for students aged 16-24, providing them with job training, food handler certifications, and resume-building opportunities. The cafe aims to benefit the neighborhood and the youth, preparing them for careers and providing a space for the community to unite.

“We thought it would be great to generate additional awareness in the community and bring people in through a café for everyone,” Andrew explains.

How You Can Support South Bronx United:

  1. Visit the Cafe: Stop by River Avenue and 157th Street. Your visit not only supports Bronx youth but also contributes to the growth of a local small business.
  2. Encourage Participation: Young people of all ages, from toddlers to teens, are welcome to join South Bronx United programs. Classes in the clubhouse are open to all, and no one is turned away based on their financial situation.
  3. Make a Donation: Financial support is crucial for organizations like South Bronx United. Consider donating to help them continue their impactful work in the community.
  4. Spread the Word: Share the inspiring story of South Bronx United and encourage others to get involved.

We were introduced to South Bronx United through Rocking the Boat, a client we’ve worked with over the years who has also been having a large positive impact on youth in the South Bronx through educational programming around boat building, sailing, and environmental stewardship.

“We’ve been with [large financial institutions] since day one, but we’ve never had a personal relationship with our bankers. There’s not a branch on every corner, but the relationship and the support with Spring Bank has been fantastic,” shares Andrew.

If you are a nonprofit organization looking for personalized community-driven financial services, explore our nonprofit checking and lending programs. You can also learn how your personal checking account, personal savings account, or business checking account creates local impact for our nonprofit partners.