Subway from 16 Stores to 44,000 in 110 Countries

Subway is one of the most recognizable fast food restaurants in the world. In fact, now it’s almost as ubiquitous as McDonalds and Dominos Pizza. This establishment offers completely different fare compared to traditional burger and pizza restaurants; that’s why it’s quite popular in many countries. The establishment grew to become a global phenomenon in a short period of time, which is why we at The Franchise Institute recommend you study how Subway gained its success.

The Origin

Subway has a surprising and inspiring origin story; it was established by a 17-year old boy named Fred DeLuca and his partner. Fred had a dream to become a doctor and wanted to find a way to finance his education. A family friend recommended that he open a submarine sandwich shop. He decided to take that advice and with the aid of Dr. Peter Buck and his $1,000 loan, he established the first Subway shop at Bridgeport, Connecticut, on August 1965. At that point, it was called Pete’s Super Submarine.

Start as a Franchise

Fred and Dr. Buck’s original goal was to establish 32 stores in a 10-year timeframe but even for a very fast growing company, that wasn’t a reasonable goal at that time. By 1974, they had only managed to establish 16 shops in Connecticut and were very far away from their goals.

That sparked the decision to turn their submarine sandwich restaurant into a franchise because they knew this would get them the growth they wanted. As proven by their later success, they were right on track, Subway is now the second fastest-growing franchise in the world, and is just a few steps behind McDonalds.

What Lead to Their Success?

The success of a franchise depends largely on how well-established the foundation of the system is. If you plan well and take your industry into consideration, you can reach new heights and help your company become a global success.

Understanding How it Works

Fred and Dr. Buck weren’t experts in this field so they didn’t hesitate to expand their knowledge and learn how to make their establishment a success. Fred spent several months understanding how to run a business, serve well-made and high-quality products, and how to provide excellent customer service. He also learned how to keep operating costs low and find good franchise locations. This knowledge allowed them to lay a good foundation for their company.


In 1968, Pete’s Super Submarines was rebranded as Subway and later the “eat fresh” tagline was introduced. This along with great logos and design allowed Subway to establish a strong brand image. They didn’t start franchising immediately after they established the company, which allowed the brand to flourish and gain recognition on its own. Once the branding was established and had value, Subway could be marketed to potential franchisees as a good investment. As you might know, branding is vital to create a successful franchise.

Consistency and Adaptability

Subway’s goal is to provide made-to-order, fresh, and relatively nutritious fast food in a world of greasy burgers and fried chicken. That’s what customers expect when they approach a Subway, and that’s what the franchise consistently delivers in all their franchise locations.

As you can see, Subway’s success is due to excellent planning from the outset. If you want to know more about franchising or want some advice, feel free to get in touch with us at The Franchise Institute. You can call us on v1300 855 435 or fill in this contact us form and we’ll reply as soon as we can.

Thanks for reading,
The Franchise Institute Team
1300 855 435

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