Joseph G. Perri, Gold Coast Bank president and chief executive,...

Joseph G. Perri, Gold Coast Bank president and chief executive, said the bank plans soon to open its fifth branch in Mineola. (June 11, 2010) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Gold Coast Bank has an adventurous idea for its second branch, now under construction in Huntington and expected to open in July.

To attract more small-business customers, it's going to have that branch function like a business center found in some hotels.

Need a conference room to meet clients or customers? Use the bank's. Need a quiet place to do some work? Relax in the lobby and use the bank's wireless Internet.

"We want our branches to be destinations," said Joseph Perri, president and chief executive of the 2-year-old bank. Eventually, he said, the existing branch in Islandia will be set up the same way, and so will a planned branch in Setauket.

The bank is in good shape for a new bank, with hardly any bad loans, and should be profitable "soon," he said.

The idea of the new layout is to forge strong relationships with existing customers and show itself to other professionals who may find themselves in a meeting at the bank.

"We, as a bank, are a little bit unconventional," he said.

Gold Coast is hardly the first to do away with the traditional staid bank atmosphere. Many Bank of Smithtown branches feature an open floor plan, and Hanover Community Bank in Garden City Park forgoes tellers in favor of customer service employees who handle transactions, and features chairs and an atmosphere like a hotel lobby. Hanover also allows customers to use its wireless Internet.

But Perri said Gold Coast wants its small-business customers to use the bank to improve themselves. The bank can serve as a networking location, he said.

The benefit to the bank will be that customers will feel more loyal to the bank, he said. And non-customers taking part in meetings at Gold Coast might also be impressed, he added.

Huntington makes sense for this kind of experiment, Perri noted. Plenty of pedestrians, including professionals, pass the bank's Main Street location.

"It has more of a small-town flavor to it," he said.

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