|In 1906, when Boston was a city of great fortunes and the Back Bay was an area of great houses, Michael Frances Foley, a recent immigrant from County Tipperary, Ireland, founded the company that bears his name today. In the historical Faneuil Hall area at Dock Square stood an imposing six story flat iron building. "M.F.", as he was known, leased a first floor space in the building from a trucking firm and the M.F. Foley Company was born. In this small area he opened a retail business and sold his fish "fresh off the boats" outside the front door.
Enjoying a healthy business, M.F. called on cooks in the Back Bay mansions, taking fish orders in the morning and making deliveries in the afternoon. As the business grew, more space was needed and M.F. rented the entire first floor for the retail. He later took over the basement and the wholesale business was on its way, with fish being delivered to the fine restaurants and hotels of that area. By 1910, Foley was the leading fish retailer in Boston. The company was on the move and M.F. bought the building which was owned by Harvard University.
In the early 1920's the demand for quality and properly handled fish was growing throughout the country. As business prospered, Railway Express Trucks became a familiar sight outside the plant, loading the barrels of fish for shipment out of Boston's North and South Stations. Foley product was chugging across America.
In 1936, M.F.'s son Frank, recently graduated from Harvard, joined the company. After a long apprenticeship, Frank took over the company but M.F. had a continued presence well into his eighties. Under Frank, the Foley Company continued to grow as did the emphasis on quality.
The Foley name became recognized throughout the industry as synonymous with quality, consistently delivered.
The late 1950's brought changes to Boston and to Foley's. A major development, Government Center and the makeover of the "Quincy Market" Faneuil Hall area, were to transform Dock Square. Foley's had to make way for this progress and M.F.'s building had to come down. The retail was closed and a site chosen to build a modern processing plant in the New Market area of Boston. The historic Dock Square plant closed on Thursday, August 22, 1963 and the new plant opened for business the following morning.
At that time this facility was considered "the model fish plant" in the industry and was for many years featured in National Marine Fisheries Service pamphlets.
When the West Howell Street plant reached capacity in the 1970's, Michael F. Foley II, Frank's son, put aside a career in banking to rejoin the company and oversee the building of a second plant. The New Bedford plant was opened in May 1981 with the goal of providing the same high quality fish both to Foley restaurant customers and now, to select supermarket customers.
Foley's, under Mike's leadership,made a strong commitment to sourcing not only the freshest fish but also the most flavorful in order to maintain his grandfather's commitment to "Fresh off the Boat" flavor. Today the Foley Company is in its fourth generation run by Mike's daughter, Laura Foley Ramsden and her husband Peter. The company celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2006 and forges ahead serving customers from Bermuda to Hawaii. The fourth generation of Foleys (Laura and her husband Peter) are carrying on the company's tradition of quality, service and education.