How Fred DeLuca Became a Billionaire with Sandwiches

On this day, October 3 in the year 1947, the businessman who built the world’s largest restaurant chain was born in New York, USA. His name was Frederick Adrian DeLuca, the co-founder of Subway.

Fred DeLuca
Fred DeLuca (Credit:

Fred DeLuca was the son of a factory worker. He grew up in a public housing in New York but transferred later to Connecticut where he finished high school. He wanted to be a doctor but instead finished a degree in psychology from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. To help pay for his college education, he took a startup capital of $1,000 from a family friend, Dr. Peter Buck, to establish the first sandwich stand which was then called Pete’s Submarine. That was in 1965 when he was only 17 years old. The two formed a partnership and planned to open 32 branches in 10 years. However, the first two branches did not work out well but the third had a better location and it really succeeded. In 1968, the company was renamed Subway.

When the partners realized they could not meet the planned 32 branches in 10 years, they started to sell franchises to entrepreneurs. By 1978, the company opened its 100th branch. In 1984, it set up its first overseas branch in Bahrain. By the turn of the 21th century, it was reportedly opening almost 50 Subways a week.

In an interview, Fred DeLuca revealed that he and his partner never argued, perhaps this could be attributed to the fact that Dr. Buck remained a silent partner. The company continued to pursue its goal of offering healthy food with superb customer service. It also endeavored to adapt its operations to the local environment where it has a branch.

Fred DeLuca died of leukemia in 2015. He had a child with wife Elizabeth. At the time of his death, his net worth was $3.5 billion, according to At present, Subway operates over 44,000 stores in many countries around the world from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, generating revenues of $20 billion.



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