The history of Biro & Sons is deeply rooted in San Francisco, dating back to Alex Biro’s first silversmith job at M&H Company in 1959.
Alex worked at M&H until he decided to purchase The Burridge Company, a silversmithing company that had been in The City since 1889. Alex and M&H’s owner Jack Matthews joined forces as M&H/Burridge Company with a shop on Fell Street.
Twenty years after starting at M&H — and with Jack Matthews’ retirement — Alex moved from Fell Street down to the company’s current location on Folsom Street and opened under the name Biro & Sons.
Both Rick and Martin Biro have fond memories of moving into the Folsom Street shop in 1979. “It used to be a plastic bag factory,” Rick remembers. “I remember coming in here as a kid, and there were these little plastic BBs that they used to make the bags in every nook and cranny.
“We still find them occasionally,” he adds with a laugh.
When the Biros first moved to Folsom Street it wasn’t the hipster paradise it is now. The street used to be known as Plater’s Row because most of the businesses on Folsom were serving the nearby shipyards. There were other assorted machine shops, garages, and industrial businesses around. “It was a fix-it street,” Rick says.
The area began to change in the early 90s during the first dot-com boom. Increased rents meant reduced blue-collar businesses.
Why did the Biros stay? “Why not!” Rick exclaims. “We are centrally located, so that we can serve the South Bay, North Bay, and East Bay. Plus, it was always known that you could get anything done in San Francisco. We were part of that. Still are.”
While the business stayed in San Francisco, the family moved out to the East Bay in 1966. “My Dad had to take the Greyhound bus in for a while,” Rick says with a laugh. “That was before the freeway system was finished and six years before BART.”
Today, the businesses around Biro & Sons are changing again. Furniture stores, coffee roasters and shops, craft breweries, and assorted creative and hospitality concerns dot the landscape now.
Next year will be the family’s 40th anniversary on Folsom Street. They are looking forward to the next generation of entrepreneurs, businesses, and San Franciscans that makes The City the best place in the world. And, they’ll be right here.