It was the summer of ’65. "Satisfaction" was blasting from the speakers of newly minted Mustangs and GTOs. Lyndon Johnson was in the White House and The New York World’s Fair was offering a hope-filled but commercialized glance into the future.
It was that very future that Fred DeLuca was concerned about. Having just graduated from high school, young DeLuca turned his thoughts toward achieving a higher education. An education would no doubt be the key to success; the type of success that not even Fred himself dared to dream about. At this moment in time, a college education seemed as far-flung as the prospect of a man walking on the moon.
It was a typically hot and humid summer day in Bridgeport, Conn., when the DeLuca family’s phone rang. Dr. Peter Buck, a family friend called to announce that he had changed jobs and was moving his family to Armonk, New York, only 40 miles away. It was time for celebration, indeed, for it had been almost a year since the Buck’s and the DeLuca’s parted company.
Plans were quickly made for a reunion. It was on that fateful Sunday afternoon in July, 1965, during a barbecue at the Buck’s new home, that a business relationship was forged between young Fred DeLuca and Dr. Buck that would forever change the landscape of the fast food industry.
During the summer of ’65, there wasn’t that much hope that the eldest DeLuca child would have enough money to pay for his college tuition. He was a hard-working, competent and dependable young man but the $1.25-per-hour minimum wage job that he had at the local hardware store wouldn’t begin to pay for an education.
As they pulled into the Buck’s driveway, it occurred to Fred that perhaps he could ask Pete for some advice. He half expected Dr. Buck to offer to loan him the money. After all, they had known each other for years and when Pete would learn how badly Fred had wanted to go to college, to study to become a medical doctor, there might be a good chance that he would offer to help.
"I think you should open a submarine sandwich shop," said Buck.
"What? What an odd thing to say to a seventeen-year-old kid," thought Fred.
Before Fred could respond or express his surprise, he heard himself say, "How does it work?"
Pete explained the submarine sandwich business. He said that all one had to do was to rent a small store, build a counter, buy some food and open for business. Customers would come in, put money on the counter and Fred would have enough to pay for college. To Pete, it was just as simple as that, and if young Fred was willing to do it, Pete was willing to be his partner.
As the DeLuca’s were getting ready to leave, Dr. Buck pulled out his checkbook and wrote a check for $1,000 ...