City Bank plans gala to open Lihu’e branch

LIHU’E – The grand opening of the first Kaua’i branch of City Bank is set for this Saturday, Nov. 16, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., with live entertainment, food from Contemporary Flavors catering, and the chance for those attending to enter the Money Machine and grab cash and certificates good for prizes.

The Kaua’i branch, inside the Ben Franklin Crafts/Ace Hardware location on Rice Street, includes a series of firsts for the bank, said Nancy Fujii, branch manager, and Marissa Matsuda, City Bank’s director of corporate communications.

The “mini-branch” is the first totally in-store location of City Bank in the state, and is also the first of City Bank’s 21 branches to feature a teller cash recycler, or TCR. The TCR is like a free-standing vault at the teller window, dispensing the exact amount of cash the teller needs at the time he or she needs it.

The TCR is being tested here to see if it will work at other branches which, like the Lihu’e location tucked into a corner of the store near the main entrance, doesn’t have enough space for a free-standing vault or other traditional bank equipment.

Outside the branch and store is the island’s first and only City Bank ATM (automated teller machine), accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The branch is smaller than the Hilo, Big Island location inside the Ben Franklin Crafts store there. The Hilo branch has its own outside entry doors as well as access from inside the store.

The Lihu’e grand opening includes a blessing and program at 10 a.m., followed by two and a half hours of entertainment, food and surprises. Aloha Breeze, featuring Jonathan Rivera, will provide the live music.

Barry Takekuma is the branch customer service representative, and the bank is looking for one more customer service representative, Fujii said.

Branch hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The branch telephone number is 245-2161. It has been open since Friday, Nov. 1, and has been doing transactions ever since, said Fujii.

Some of the Ace and Ben Franklin employees have opened accounts at the branch, effectively eliminating the need to leave their workplace on payday in order to cash their checks.

Both Fujii and Takekuma trained for one month in Honolulu for their current positions, coming home only on weekends during that time. Additional training continued inside the Lihu’e branch.

Matsuda explained that City Bank had planned on establishing a Kaua’i branch much sooner than this year, but unexpected visitors named Hurricane ‘Iwa in 1982 and Hurricane ‘Iniki in 1992 put those plans on hold.

There have been City Bank employees active on the island, mainly offering residential and construction loans and servicing for the booming real estate market on the North Shore. A small loan office was established at Princeville Shopping Center.

But the opening of the Lihu’e branch earlier this month marked the first full-time, full-service presence for City Bank on Kaua’i, Matsuda said.

Just outside the new branch and inside the store sits the familiar, teal-colored bench that is City Bank’s functional branding item, signifying the side-by-side nature of its employee-customer relationships, instead of across-the-counter or across-a-desk interaction, Matsuda explained.

The benches are offered to certain customers, and Ben Franklin Crafts is a customer, and owner of the bench, she said.

Fujii comes to City Bank with over 25 years of experience in the banking industry, including stints with First Hawaiian Bank and Davenport Bank & Trust in Iowa. Most recently, she was office manager for Summers Realty in Kapa’a.

She attended Davenport Business School in Davenport, Iowa, and at City Bank is responsible for overseeing daily functions of the branch and developing and growing a customer base.

“We are excited at the prospect of meeting old friends and customers while making new ones,” she said.

City Bank is the main subsidiary of CB Bancshares, Inc. The bank, with $1.5 billion in assets, provides a full range of banking products and services for small- and medium-sized businesses, as well as retail and individual customers.

Its other 20 branches are on O’ahu, Maui and the Big Island.

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