Subway's cofounder pursued franchisees' wives, appeared in a shirtless calendar, and had a secret adopted child
Subwaycofounder and long-time CEO Fred DeLucaposed shirtless for a faux boudoir calendar.
- The calendar exemplifies parts of Subway's culture some found unprofessional and inappropriate.
- Subway encouraged socializing, and DeLuca was known for trying to seduce
franchisees' wives, sources said.
Subway cofounder and long-time CEO Fred DeLuca became famous for his rags-to-riches story of building the brand into the largest restaurant chain in the world by location.But, behind the scenes, insiders say DeLuca's behavior could spark concerns.
Multiple former employees said that Subway had a "big family" atmosphere with DeLuca at the helm from 1965 until his death in 2015. Some embraced the social atmosphere, meeting significant others on the job and attending parties thrown by Subway. Others felt uncomfortable, with the ex-employee who shared the calendar saying it could feel like a "bizarre," insular high school.Insiders said DeLuca engaged in other practices that they believed were inappropriate for a CEO. Two sources told Insider that DeLuca would pursue franchisees' wives at conventions. According to one long-time franchisee, the practice infuriated some, but DeLuca got away with it because many at Subway saw him as a "demigod." "He always felt that he could go and he could approach any woman," at Subway conventions "because he was responsible for their husband's success in stores," a business associate said.
One long-term girlfriend, Cindy Mattson, filed a lawsuit against DeLuca's estate after his death, claiming he had adopted a child with her, without signing the formal adoption papers. Mattson claimed that DeLuca promised to support her and her son - named Luca - with $20 million, according to court documents obtained by Insider. DeLuca's wife, Elisabeth DeLuca, denied the claims. Mattson later filed a document saying she had received full payment or otherwise settled or compromised on the claim. (Mattson did not respond to Insider's requests for comment).
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