Peter Buck, co-founder of Subway Sandwich Chain, dies at the age of 90
He lent a $1,000 loan to his friend’s son to open a sandwich shop. That store later developed into the largest fast food chain in the world.
Peter Barker died on Thursday in Danbury, Connecticut. He invested $1,000 in a sandwich shop that later developed into the world’s largest fast food chain Subway. He was 90 years old.
Subway announced his death in the hospital in a statement. No reason was given.
Dr. Buck is a trained nuclear physicist. In 1965, the 17-year-old son of a friend, Fred DeLuca, asked him for advice on how to pay for college education while he was helping to design a nuclear power plant. Dr. Buck has fond memories of an Italian sandwich shop that his family patronized when he grew up in Maine, and he suggested that he open a similar shop.
But first Dr. Buck drove Mr. DeLuca to Maine, and then took him to Amato’s, a sandwich supplier of his youth, who now owns a franchise in northern New England. Dr. Barker gave him a loan of $1,000, and within two weeks, Mr. DeLuca opened Pitt’s super submarine in Bridgeport, Connecticut, named after his partner, Dr. Barker.
Mr. DeLuca is a native of New York, and he produced radio advertisements for what he called “Pete’s Submarine.” It turns out that the audience thought he was talking about “Pisa Marines,” so for clarity, the partner changed the name to Subway in 1968. (Sandwiches have long been called submarines because the shape of bread resembles submarines, although they are called heroes, grinders, po’boys, or hoagies in different ways in other parts of the country.)
The two soon started opening restaurants elsewhere. Today, Subway has nearly 40,000 restaurants worldwide.
Although thousands of its stores have been closed in recent years, Subway is still the world’s largest food chain in terms of the number of stores. (McDonald’s and Starbucks have more revenue.)
Forbes estimates that Dr. Barker’s net worth is $1.7 billion, and he is listed by the Land Report as the seventh largest landowner in the country. His assets include more than 1.2 million acres of woodland in Maine.
The interior of a Subway sandwich shop in Manhattan. Subway has nearly 40,000 restaurants worldwide, making it the food chain with the largest number of stores in the world. Photo Credit: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Peter Barker was born on December 19, 1930 in South Portland, Maine, where his father Owen Barker and his mother Lillian (Draper) Barker ran a large farm there. Peter and his brother David helped plant, cultivate and pick lettuce, pumpkin, celery and other crops. Their mother later became a reporter and worked for the Portland News Herald.