NEW YORK — Subway co-founder Fred DeLuca died Monday at the age of 67, two years after being diagnosed with leukemia.
Subway recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. The company traces its roots to 1965, when DeLuca opened a sandwich shop at the age of 17 to help pay for college. The idea came from a family friend, Peter Buck, who was the co-founder and provided $1,000 to start the business. “I knew nothing about making sandwiches, nor the food industry,” DeLuca later wrote in a book.
DeLuca and Buck opened their first store in Bridgeport, Conn. under the name “Pete’s Super Submarines,” with the priciest sub selling for 69 cents. The name was changed to the snappier “Subway” in 1968 and the pair decided to fuel growth by franchising. By 1988, Subway had 2,000 locations. By 1990, it reached the 5,000-store mark and in 1994 it had more than 8,000 locations.
In July 2013, Subway announced that DeLuca had been diagnosed with leukemia. The company said DeLuca was in regular contact with his management team, but on a reduced basis as he received treatment. Then earlier this summer, Subway said DeLuca’s younger sister, Suzanne Greco, would take over as president and oversee day-to-day operations. DeLuca remained CEO.
The company did not immediately say Tuesday if a successor had been named as CEO. DeLuca is survived by his wife, son and sister, according to Subway, which announced his death Tuesday.