VOL. 123 | NO. 239 | Monday, December 8, 2008
Lenny’s Founder’s Death Apparent Suicide, Police Say
By Tom Wilemon
Funeral services for Len Moore, the man who started a sandwich shop in Bartlett that grew into the Lenny’s Sub Shop national franchise, were held Friday in Woodlands, Texas.
Moore died Tuesday at his office in Conroe, Texas, of an apparent suicide, according to police there. However, the exact cause of death was still under investigation as of press time, pending the results of an autopsy.
Police responded to a call and went to Moore’s office at about 7 a.m. Tuesday.
“It was apparent that he had sustained a gunshot wound, but there were also other factors involved,” said Sgt. Bob Berry of the Conroe Police Department. “The most apparent thing was the gunshot wound, but the rest of the crime scene and all that information is still in the case. We do believe it’s a suicide. A preliminary investigation shows that, but the actual final result has not been released.”
Moore, who sold majority ownership in the business in 2004, had moved the following year from the Memphis area to Texas with his family. There, he was opening new restaurants in the counties of Fort Bend, Harris and Montgomery under a franchise agreement with the new ownership. The counties are all in the Houston metropolitan area.
“Len touched many lives and will certainly be missed,” Lenny’s Franchisor LLC said in a statement released to The Daily News.
Moore and wife, Shelia Moore, opened the original Lenny’s Sub Shop in Bartlett in 1998 to help pay for their daughter’s college education.
“My wife and I were going to settle down and work in the store,” Len Moore said in a 2006 interview with The Daily News. “Really, all we ever thought we’d do was make a little extra money.”
He had previously held management positions in Chick-fil-A, TGI Friday’s, Olive Garden and Ruby Tuesday’s.
Moore also worked as director of operations for several independent restaurant companies and owned one of the first Chick-fil-A franchises.
His first job in the food service business was as a busboy at age 16 in Wilmington, Del., according to the Lenny’s Franchisor statement.
Moore wanted to offer a Philadelphia-style submarine sandwich when he opened the first Lenny’s.
“It took off overnight, which was amazing,” he said in the 2006 interview.
By the end of their first year in operation, the couple had opened five stores in the Memphis area. They found success by avoiding pre-packaged foods and not tolerating impersonal service. The company still uses their motto of “More Food, More Taste, More Personality!”
By 2001, the small restaurant chain had grown to more than 20 restaurants across the Southeast. That’s when franchising began.
Lenny’s Franchisor LLC, which is still based here, now has 177 franchises in 22 states.
After having sold the business in 2004, Moore established CLM Franchise Consultants LLC, a joint venture with lifelong friend Tom Clatterbuck, who owns and operates Lenny’s Sub Shops in several states.
They opened the first Lenny’s franchise in Woodlands, Texas. Shelia Moore, son Brian Moore, daughter Christi Thoms and son-in-law Justin Thoms helped Len Moore build the Lenny’s name in the Houston market.
The first restaurant they opened there became one of the top 10 Lenny’s Sub Shops for sales revenues.
In 2006, Moore was chosen as the International Franchise Association’s Franchisee of the Year.
The family requests that instead of flowers, Moore’s memory be honored with donations to the American Heart Association at South Central Affiliate, American Heart Association, P.O. Box 841125, Dallas, Texas, 78284-1125.