The Olive Link is defined by the changes it has undergone throughout the decades. Businesses have come and gone while buildings have been constructed, demolished and remodeled. A hotbed of immigrant-owned restaurants and retailers, the Link reflects the cultural diversification of the United States. Meanwhile, property owners and realtors are working to attract tech start-ups, arts organizations and other industries to the neighborhood, which will bring new contributions and dynamics to an already vibrant business environment. Through all this change, there are several longtime businesses who have thrived in this ever-evolving business district for generations. Royal Banks of Missouri is one of those businesses. With decades of growth and a commitment to community engagement, Royal Banks embodies what makes the Olive Link and its businesses special.
Royal Banks of Missouri was established in 1964 by two University City businessmen, Tom Green and Ben Pessin. The pair originally worked in commercial real estate, and after years managing loans, they decided to collaborate on a bank that specialized in commercial real estate lending. A few years after the bank opened, Green and Pessin decided to extend operations to include retail banking as well. Since its founding, Royal Banks continued to grow and evolve in terms of products, services and branches, true to the spirit of the Olive Link.
Today, the Green and Pessin families continue to lead Royal Banks with members serving on its loan committee and board of directors. The two families also remain the bank’s primary shareholders. Under their leadership, Royal Banks has grown to include eleven locations across the St. Louis area, with the main branch and headquarters remaining in the original building at 8021 Olive Boulevard. With the highest rankings in the region for stability and strength, the organization provides efficient, individualized services at the personal and commercial levels. Royal Banks’ dedication to sound lending practices, competitive products and accountable delivery to its clients has positioned it as a top player among our area’s local banks. In fact, Frontenac Bank merged into Royal Banks in 2016, a move that highlights the strength and appeal of the Royal Banks brand.
The size of Royal Banks is not the only thing that has changed with time. Several key players have joined the organization throughout the years, including Stephen Baden, Mitch Baden and Mark Baden. Stephen, a University City native, joined Royal Banks as a loan officer in 1999 and now serves as president and CEO. Stephen’s brother, Mitch, serves as executive vice president and chief operating officer, while his son Mark serves as assistant vice president and oversees the commercial loans side. Together, the trio contribute to Royal Banks’ legacy as a superior institution with strong ties to the community.
“We emphasize the community aspect of a being a community bank,” says Mark Baden, commenting on the several ways that Royal Banks gets involved with causes and organizations in University City. The bank often assists in publicizing local events to its employees and customers. Several of its employees have helped the University City Public Library with its free public health screenings and providing senior resources. Royal Banks is also an active member of the University City Chamber of Commerce, and has sponsored several of the organization’s events. To ensure that all corners of U City and adjacent areas had easy access to its services, Royal Banks also opened a second location at 7701 Delmar Boulevard in the North & South Business District. Royal Banks also employs a full-time Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and utility banker at its main branch who helps the bank serve the needs of low-income clients.
Royal Banks’ community efforts extend to providing support and opportunities to young people. The bank has a very close relationship with the University City School District and supports National Merit Scholarship contenders at University City High School. Royal Banks also offers the Lubin-Green-Cohen-Kiem Scholarship, which awards three high school seniors across the region with $1000 each year.
Royal Banks’ community involvement is emblematic of its status as a longstanding business leader on the Olive Link, which is an ideal location for the company’s headquarters, according to Mark Baden. “There is such a wide range of businesses on Olive Boulevard in U City, from corporations to Mom and Pop shops,” says Mark. “Many of these businesses are Royal Banks’ clients, and we enjoy working with them and love being positioned in such an exciting area.” Mark also believes that the Olive Link’s unique business mix and central location give it distinct potential in economic growth and development. “Very good things are coming up on this stretch of Olive,” he asserts. “Investors are eager to put money into the area. With so many kinds of businesses nearby, it’s a great place for new businesses from any industry to set up shop.”
With 53 years in business and counting, Royal Banks of Missouri is a true veteran of the Olive Link. Its longevity and growth encapsulate the Link’s economic viability, and its values and engagement reflect the cooperation and interdependence that define the Link’s business scene. As the Olive Link continues to grow, Royal Banks will remain a business leader that offers both financial and community support to local businesses and residents. With a business like this as a supporter and cornerstone, the future of the Olive Link looks very bright.
8021 Olive Blvd.
University City, MO 63130