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Brookline Then and Now: Foley’s on Cypress Street

August 18, 2023

Twenty-two-year-old William F. Foley, after working as a clerk at a Brookline Village grocer, opened his own grocery store in The Point neighborhood in 1895. Twelve years later, Foley, the son of an Irish immigrant, moved his business into one end of a new one-story commercial building at 228 Cypress Street. An ad in the local paper encouraged shoppers to “Send us an order for groceries.”

“Then notice,” the ad continued, “the promptness of delivery, the cleanliness and freshness of goods, the full honest measure, the quality of what you get. You will find abundant reasons for sending us your future orders.”

Liquor sales were banned in Brookline at the time by local ordinance and, later, by national Prohibition, but in 1935, not long after Prohibition was repealed, Foley obtained a liquor license. The business has passed through multiple owners — of multiple ethnicities (Irish, Jewish, Greek, Palestinian) — since then, but has kept the Foley name. The sign on the older photo, from 1937, advertises “Fine Liquors, Wines, and Beers” for sale. The neon “Bottled Liquors” sign in the 2023 photo replaced the older sign.

Ken Liss is president of the Brookline Historical Society.

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