Fred DeLuca, who co-founded the Subway sandwich chain to finance his college studies before it grew to overtake McDonald’s Corp. in size, has died. He was 67.
He died on Sept. 14, according to an e-mailed company statement. In 2013, the company said DeLuca was receiving treatment for leukemia. In June, Suzanne Greco, his sister, took on his role of president.
Along with Peter Buck, DeLuca opened the company’s first restaurant in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1965 and expanded it to include about 42,000 outlets worldwide over the next five decades. As a 17-year-old high-school graduate, he went into the sandwich business with Buck, a family friend and nuclear physicist, after asking him for a $1,000 loan. Buck came up with the idea to help DeLuca pay his way through college.
DeLuca and his partner turned the privately owned brand, initially called Pete’s Super Submarines, into a franchise in 1974 and took the business nationwide with its BMT sandwich, named after the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit company, and the “Snak” sub sandwich, later known as the “6-inch.” In 2002, Subway overtook McDonald’s in number of restaurants globally, according to a Wall Street Journal article.
“Once you get a name brand and traction, it’s relatively easy to expand” DeLuca said in a Bloomberg interview in 2013. “The big limitation when we start to grow quickly is location.”
DeLuca had a net worth of $3.5 billion, ranking him 259th in the U.S., according to Forbes magazine.
Subway, which is owned by the holding company Doctor’s Associates Inc., became known as a healthy fast-food alternative to McDonald’s and other chains, such as Kentucky Fried Chicken and Burger King. Helped by marketing “Jared the Subway Guy,” who lost 245 pounds with his own Subway diet for almost a year, the Milford, Connecticut-based company became the first quick- service restaurant to gain the American Heart Association’s Heart Check Certification for some of its low-calorie, low- sodium meals in 2012, according to Subway’s website.
The company cut its ties to Jared Fogle, the Subway Guy, in 2015 after he was charged with engaging in sex acts with minors and receiving child pornography. He agreed to plead guilty to child exploitation and child pornography, the Associated Press reported Sept. 1.
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SOURCE: Bloomberg, David Henry