How many analysts would have predicted this merger?

Skip Martin, president of $378 million-asset Pocahontas Federal Savings and Loan, Pocahontas, Ark., mentioned to a bunch of thrift executives at the America's Community Bankers convention this week that his thrift had recently acquired three branches from NationsBank Corp.

But instead of listing it as a branch acquisition, federal regulators classified the deal as a merger.

Not too unusual for NationsBank, a Top 10 bank with a history of acquisition. But if the record stood, it's Pocahontas that would now formally be one of the nation's most acquisitive banking companies.

"I have documents in my office that say we are the survivor," Mr. Martin said. - Alan Kline

Sure, customers can now pay bills on City National Bank and Trust's home page. But a visit to the bank's Internet site can also give you a serious hankering for some Texas barbecue.

The bank's home page touts the town of Taylor as the place to get, "arguably, the best barbecue in Texas." If you click on the Texas Monthly link, it directs you to some of the best barbecue restaurants in the area.

Now, one of the bank's oldest customers is using the Internet to tout its dominance in BBQ to the rest of the country.

With a little nudge from the bank, Louie Mueller Barbeque, a restaurant dating from the mid-1940s, put its own home page on the Web last year. The result has been increased profits as Internet surfers phone in food orders. "Their sales have gone up dramatically because of that," said Andrew Littlejohn, president of City National.

Of course, the success also makes the bank happy, he said. The restaurant has banked with City National since its founding. And bank employees remain some of its most loyal customers.

"I like their brisket," Mr. Littlejohn said. - Joanna Sullivan

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.