What’s the Deal With Bank Cafes?

Though small in number, gathering places that exist for marketing purposes aren’t going away.

January 22, 2024

“Why is a bank building a national coffeehouse empire?” the Wall Street Journal asks. The answer: “For the same reason a marketer of coffee-alternative powders just opened a public space housing a meditation room and pop-up cold-plunge pools, and a California clothing brand is preparing its second live music venue.”

As the line between work and home continues to blur, the demand for third spaces—neither work, nor home—continues to grow. Starbucks proudly leans into being a third space, but other companies are approaching them with an eye on expanding their core product or service.

According to the Journal, the spaces are “designed to make a statement about brand values in a physical form that is more persistent than the pop-up shops and experiences that have proliferated over the past decade.”

“We are not looking to sell accounts through the cafes,” Jennifer Windbeck, Capital One’s head of retail bank channels and operations, told the Journal. “We are looking at the cafes as ways of expanding the public’s exposure to Capital One.” Currently, there are 56 Capital One Cafes.

At these cafes, Capital One account holders receive discounts. Customers can “chat with a Capital One ambassador, but staff are trained not to aggressively approach or circle cafe guests.”

Giving people a public place to spend time is a smart decision in a period defined by remote work and a loneliness crisis, said Michael Miraflor, chief brand officer at venture firm Hannah Grey VC.

Yahoo Finance covered the trend in August. At the time, Capital One was “introducing new menu items like avocado toast and ice cream geared to appeal to under-40 adults.”

Santander and U.S. Bank are among other banks that have cafes.