Owning an ATM stumbling distance from one of Chicago's hippest bars is a good thing. It is even better when said hipster hangout only takes cash.
Big Star has a big patio, often a long wait, fantastic tacos and $3 whiskey shots in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood. But the honky-tonk taqueria doesn't accept credit cards.
North Community Bank has a branch just north of Big Star at the busy intersection of Damen, Milwaukee and North avenues, and the $2.5 billion-asset bank's new owners are well aware of the traffic North Community's ATM receives from patrons of Big Star and all of the other bars, restaurants, donut windows and music venues that line the neighborhood.
"I know it well it is a high-performing machine," said Roberto Herencia, the chief executive of BXM Holdings, a group of investors that late last month completed a $206.7 million recapitalization of Metropolitan Bank Group, North Community's holding company.
He made the remark during a lighthearted moment in an interview about the tenuous process of getting the deal done, but it underscored a serious point about the business.
"That is the very attraction of the franchise its deposit base," Herencia said.
More ATM owners might wish other restaurants and bars thought like Big Star, which favors cash because "the number of open tabs and credit cards on hand would overcomplicate service and slow down the pace," a spokeswoman said.
Full disclosure: North Community is not the only game in the neighborhood. There is an ATM inside Big Star, PNC Financial Services (PNC) has one across the street and several others are nearby. ... Not that this People blog correspondent is spending a lot of time around there, or anything.