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Subway tycoon Peter Buck dies aged 90 after co-founding Pete’s Super Submarines’ in 1965


The co-founder of the world’s largest fast food chain – Subway – has died aged 90.   

Peter Buck, a nuclear physicist who was born in Portland, Maine, in 1930, died at a hospital in Connecticut on November 18, Subway said in a statement. The cause of his death was not disclosed.

At 17, family friend Fred DeLuca had asked Buck how he could make some money to help pay for college. Buck’s answer? Open a sandwich shop.

In 1965, Dr Buck – who provided start-up funds of $1,000 – and DeLuca opened ‘Pete’s Super Submarines’ in Bridgeport, with the priciest sandwich selling for 69 cents.

The day their shop opened, on August 28, 1965, Dr Buck and De Luca sold out of their foot-long subs, which remain a staple of the chain’s menu today.

The duo changed the name to ‘Subway’ three years later and decided to turn it into a chain by franchising – a move that would eventually make both of them billionaires.

Forbes estimated Buck’s net worth at $1.7 billion. DeLuca died in 2015 at age 67.

Subway says it now has more than 40,000 locations worldwide, topping McDonald’s and Starbucks, which have around 39,200 and 32,000 respectively. 

The first Subway outlet in the UK opened in Brighton in 1996.

The co-founder of the world’s largest fast food chain – Subway – has died aged 90. Peter Buck, a nuclear physicist who was born in Portland, Maine, in 1930, died at a hospital in Connecticut on November 18, Subway said in a statement. The cause of his death was not disclosed

At 17, family friend Fred DeLuca had asked Buck how he could make some money to help pay for college. Buck's answer? Open a sandwich shop. In 1965, Dr Buck – who provided start-up funds of $1,000 – and DeLuca opened 'Pete's Super Submarines' in Bridgeport, with the priciest sandwich selling for 69 cents

At 17, family friend Fred DeLuca had asked Buck how he could make some money to help pay for college. Buck’s answer? Open a sandwich shop. In 1965, Dr Buck – who provided start-up funds of $1,000 – and DeLuca opened ‘Pete’s Super Submarines’ in Bridgeport, with the priciest sandwich selling for 69 cents 

In 2002, Subway opened its 100th store in the British Isles and by the end of 2003 there were double that number. As of this month, there are 2,209 outlets.

‘We didn’t make a profit for 15 years,’ Buck told The Wall Street Journal in 2014.

Asked if he ever thought the chain would grow so big, he told the newspaper, ‘Well, I always thought we’d get bigger and bigger, but I really didn’t have a certain number in mind.’

As a physicist, Buck was hired by General Electric in 1957 at a laboratory in Schenectady, New York, and worked on atomic power plants for U.S. Navy submarines and ships.

Dr Buck had been the first in his family to go to college. He graduated in 1952 and then earned his doctorate in physics.

He later worked for United Nuclear in White Plains, New York, and Nuclear Energy Services in Danbury, where he made his home, according to an obituary prepared by his family.

After Subway opened, DeLuca (pictured above with his mother) enlisted the help of his family to work as staff. His mother became company officer after holding weekly planning meetings at her kitchen table

After Subway opened, DeLuca (pictured above with his mother) enlisted the help of his family to work as staff. His mother became company officer after holding weekly planning meetings at her kitchen table 

Dr Buck and De Luca changed the name of their outlet after people listening to radio adverts they had made thought 'Pete's Submarines' sounded like 'Pizza Marines'

Dr Buck and De Luca changed the name of their outlet after people listening to radio adverts they had made thought ‘Pete’s Submarines’ sounded like ‘Pizza Marines’

He also pursued philanthropy, making significant donations to many organizations including the Smithsonian Institution, to which he gave a 23-carat ruby named after his late second wife, Carmen Lucia Buck, in 2004.

After Subway opened, DeLuca enlisted the help of his family to work as staff. His mother became company officer after holding weekly planning meetings at her kitchen table.

Dr Buck and De Luca changed the name of their outlet after people listening to radio adverts they had made thought ‘Pete’s Submarines’ sounded like ‘Pizza Marines’.

In the US, sandwiches had long been called subs because their shape resembled that of a submarine.

Dr Buck and De Luca fuelled the growth of their business through franchising – where owners allow other businessmen to open Subway stores in exchange for fees.

By 1988, Subway had 2,000 locations. By 1990, it reached the 5,000-store mark. And by 1994, it had more than 8,000 locations.

Subway says it now has more than 40,000 locations worldwide, topping McDonald's and Starbucks

Subway says it now has more than 40,000 locations worldwide, topping McDonald’s and Starbucks

Subway: A short history  

1965: Fred DeLuca asks family friend Peter Buck how he can make some money to help pay for college. 

Buck tells him to open a sandwich shop an provides start-up funds of $1,000. 

The first outlet – ‘Pete’s Super Submarines’ – opens in Bridgeport Connecticut, in 1965.    

1968: Buck and Deluca decide to change the company’s name to Subway .

1971: Fred graduates from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut with a degree in psychology by paying his way with the money he made at the sandwich shop. 

He no longer has aspirations of becoming a doctor and continues to expand his business with co-founder Peter Buck.

1974: Fred DeLuca and Peter Buck reach their goal of owning 32 stores. This is the year they decide opening a franchise in a key to growth.

1978: Subway opens its 100th outlet.

1987: Subway opens its 1000th outlet. 

2007: Forbes magazine names DeLuca number 242 of the 400 richest Americans with a net worth of $1.5 billion. His net worth most recently totaled $3.5 billion 

2013: The company counts 39,500 franchised locations worldwide.   

2013: Fred DeLuca announces that he is going into treatment for Leukemia 

2015: Fred DeLuca dies of cancer at 67 and his sister Suzzane Greco takes his place as company CEO

2021: Peter Buck dies aged 90 



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