Di Bruno Bros. has opened a catering venue in the Frank Furness-designed building at Sixth and Spring Garden Streets that for a decade was The Bank, a nightclub.
And where The Bank defined ’90s excesses with wild parties on its three floors, Banca — as it is now configured on one floor, for now — will host private events such as parties for private individuals as well as nonprofits. On Sunday, Nov. 24, for example, Daniel McLaughlin, an owner of Center City’s Mission Taqueria, will host a Friendsgiving event to benefit the Food Trust.
Banca represents Di Bruno’s expansion from its core business of groceries and off-premises catering to attract a wider clientele. It reflects companies’ willingness to attempt brand extension, much as Vernick Food & Drink did this week by opening a wine shop and private dining room next door.
Owner Craig Grossman of Arts & Crafts Holdings, which is developing a huge swath of the city between Front and Broad Streets, Callowhill to Spring Garden Streets, has his office upstairs in the white granite neo-Greco building, which was built in 1872 as the Northern Saving Fund Safe Deposit Co. It was, for many years, the Spring Garden branch of Provident Bank. It’s also believed to be the oldest existing example of Furness’ work.
The building also is two blocks from Di Bruno’s commissary, pointed out Bill Mignucci Jr., Di Bruno’s president.
“Before Craig bought this building, I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be a great location for our commissary to have a catering menu here,’ because we don’t to have a full kitchen,” Mignucci said. “And so Craig said, ‘Well, why not?’ And why not do a catering menu here? He and I talked about how Di Bruno’s had played a role in this neighborhood for a couple of years now. Because I truly believe that this is a great corridor that’s up and coming, and in a lot of ways. I love its access to the city and public transportation and everything.”
“The truth is it was really logical,” Mignucci said. “We can preserve this space, and it wasn’t too big because we didn’t want too big. It couldn’t be new. It had to be an old building, because Di Bruno’s is about nostalgia. And Craig gave us a really good deal on rent.”
The Friendsgiving event, which will be staffed by 12 chefs, is “a charitable opportunity," Mignucci said. "I think it’s a really cool way to introduce Banca.” The venue can handle about 140 people for a seated function and about 175 for cocktails.
In addition to private events, Di Bruno’s plans pop-ups. “We’ll bring cheesemakers in, we’ll bring people from the industry and from around the country and the world,” Mignucci said. “This gives us a place to play. It’s a playground. And I think we‘ve got to figure out a way to make money too, and pay our rent. But in between, that we’ll eat a lot of good prosciutto.”