Fred DeLuca, Co-Founder And CEO Of Subway, Dead At 67

Subway co-founder and CEO Fred DeLuca, who transformed a small sandwich shop he started as a teenager into the world’s largest fast-food empire, died on Monday night. Cause of death was not released. He was 67.

Born in New York City in 1947 to second-generation Italian immigrant parents, DeLuca didn’t have a charmed childhood. He first lived in a low-rent basement apartment in Brooklyn before his family relocated to public housing in the Bronx.

Moving to “the projects” had been “a step up [for us],” DeLuca recalled years later.

When DeLuca graduated from high school at the age of 17, he worried about how he was going to put himself through college. His parents had instilled in him the value of a good education and he harbored dreams of becoming a doctor.

“The problem was that I couldn’t afford my dream,” DeLuca wrote in a 2005 essay. “My job at the local hardware store paid minimum wage, a mere $1.25 an hour. For me, a college education seemed as far-flung as the prospect of a man walking on the moon.”

DeLuca’s life would soon take an unexpected detour.

That year — 1965 — he approached a family friend named Peter Buck about borrowing some money to pay for his college education. But Buck had something else in mind.

“I think you should open a submarine sandwich shop,” Buck told him. He loaned DeLuca $1,000 to do just that.

As DeLuca later wrote in his 2000 book, “Start Small Finish Big,” he knew “nothing about making sandwiches, nor the food industry,” but followed Buck’s advice and opened a small store in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The plan was to run the sub shop and use the proceeds to help pay for college.

“It wasn’t intended to support me forever,” DeLuca wrote.

He named the sandwich store “Pete’s Super Submarines” after his benefactor. In 1968, DeLuca changed the name to “Subway.”

 

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Eric Write head editor and chief at The Pluto Daily