The former Capital One branch on Main Street where First National Bank of Long Island plans to open its first branch east of Route 112. Photo: Denise Civiletti

First National Bank of Long Island is planning to open a branch on Main Street in Riverhead.

The Nassau County-based bank filed an application with federal regulators this month to establish a new branch at 140 East Main Street at the corner of East Avenue, the former location of a Capital One branch. The application is subject to a 30-day public comment period which expires on May 16.

First National Bank of Long Island was established as First National Bank of Glen Head, which opened on Oct. 1, 1927, according to the company website. It opened its second branch in 1956 and in the years since has expanded with new branches in Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn. 

The Riverhead location would be the bank’s easternmost branch. The bank plans to open the branch in the first half of 2019, following regulatory approvals and renovations to the building, according to Mark Curtis, senior executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer.

First National Bank of Long Island prides itself as a community bank offering personal service, using the tagline “Where Everyone Knows Your Name,” Curtis said in a phone interview today.

“We’re successful at being a big bank alternative,” he said. “Because we’re locally managed, we can make decisions for the local markets — not so for the ‘money centers.’ The philosophy is different. The way they manage is different. Chase and HSBC have been very kind to us in terms of our ability to attract customers away,” Curtis noted.

“There’s been a lot of consolidation in the community banking business. We think there’s a real opportunity for people like us in Riverhead,” Curtis said.

First National Bank of Long Island (NASDAQ: FLIC) is the sole subsidiary of the First of Long Island Corporation, a one-bank holding company organized under the laws of the State of New York. The company reported total assets of just under $3.9 billion at the end of 2017, a year in which it reported net income of $35.1 million, an increase of 13.7 percent over 2016. It reported cash dividends per share of 58 cents in 2017, up 5.5 percent over 2016 cash dividends.

“Our growth and profitability has been enhanced by the expansion of our branch distribution system. We believe in branches,” the bank says in its 2017 annual report

The bank currently operates 52 branches.

“We’ve been opening two or three new branches every year,” Curtis said. First National Bank of Long Island has recently been focusing on Queens and Brooklyn.) “On Long Island we’ve been looking mostly west of [Route] 112,” he said. In 2017, the bank opened four new branches, two of which were in Suffolk (in East Islip and East Setauket.)

The Riverhead location will be its first branch east of Port Jefferson Station and Patchogue.

In considering where to establish a new branch, the bank conducts demographic studies, looking for “large concentrations of our target markets,” Curtis said. Those include small and middle-market businesses, professionals — doctors, lawyers, dentists, CPAs — municipalities and “affluent consumers” — households with incomes of $100,000 or more. Riverhead checked all the boxes.

“Whether we do more out there depends on how things shape up for us,” Curtis said. “we’re always exploring opportunities.”

Capital One closed its branch at the same location in November. Capital One operates another Riverhead branch on Old Country Road. Both Capital One branches had been North Fork Bank branches when the Mattituck-based bank merged with the Virginia-based Capital One in 2008.

Until Suffolk County National Bank was purchased by People’s United Bank of Bridgeport, Connecticut last year, other nationally chartered banks were prohibited by banking regulations from opening branches in Riverhead, where Suffolk County National Bank was headquartered. The acquisition of Suffolk by People’s has opened the Riverhead market to other banks interested in establishing new branches here.  Bridgehampton National Bank has opened a Main Street, Riverhead branch as well.

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