Subway Cofounder Dr. Peter Buck Dies at 90

    His $1,000 donation led to the eventual formation of Subway.

    Fast Food | November 19, 2021 | Ben Coley
    Headshot of Subway cofounder Peter Buck
    Subway
    The business was first called Pete's Super Submarines, named after Dr. Peter Buck.

    Dr. Peter Buck, who cofounded Subway along with the late Fred DeLuca, passed away Thursday at the age of 90. 

    While working as a nuclear physicist, Buck loaned 17-year-old college freshman DeLuca $1,000 in 1965 to help him open a submarine sandwich shop and pay for school at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. The original restaurant was called Pete's Super Submarines, named after Buck. During the first day, the restaurant sold 312 sandwiches, which cost between 49 cents and 69 cents. 

    Formalizing the business further, Buck and DeLuca in 1966 formed Doctor's Associates, Inc., which harkens back to Buck's Ph.D and the fact that DeLuca wanted to become a doctor. In 1968, the Subway name was used for the first time, and by 1974, the sandwich enterprise had grown to 16 stores throughout Connecticut. To expedite growth, they kickstarted franchising, with the first store coming in Wallingford, Connecticut. 

    Subway is now the world's largest restaurant in terms of units, with nearly 40,000 locations in more than 100 countries. The chain's franchisee network includes more than 20,000. 

    "We are deeply saddened by the passing of one of Subway’s founders, Dr. Peter Buck," Subway CEO John Chidsey said in a statement. "He was a shining example of a dedicated, hands-on leader, and an integral member of the Subway family. Dr. Buck’s devotion to Subway, and his vision for the brand, helped grow it from a singular sandwich shop in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to the world’s largest restaurant brand. We are forever grateful for his countless contributions and I speak on behalf of all of us at Subway when I say that we will honor his legacy as we continue to build this incredible brand."

    In addition to Subway, Buck was known for his philanthropic efforts. In 1999 he and his late wife Carmen Lucia Buck formed the Peter and Camen Lucia Buck Foundation to manage all of their charitable efforts. He supported the expansion of charter schools in Connecticut and New York, frequently donated to his alma mater Bowdoin College, and helped Danbury Hospital in Connecticut build a new patient tower that was later named after he and his wife. Buck also helped institutions acquire rare items and owned 1.2 million acres of timberland in Maine. 

    Buck was preceded in death by DeLuca, who passed away in 2015 after battling leukemia. Buck co-owned Subway with DeLuca's wife Elisabeth, according to Business Insider

    "Dr. Buck has made a lasting impact on the Subway brand and leaves behind a spirit of hard  work and dedication across its nearly 40,000 worldwide Subway locations," the company said in a statement. "His legacy will continue to live on through the brand he worked so hard to build and across his  many philanthropic efforts."