Former Toronto businessman killed in Florida ambush

One of the early partners in the Toronto-based Mr. Submarine chain of sandwich shops has been slain in a spectacular ambush in Florida.

The Toronto Star
February 8, 2001

Former Toronto businessman killed in Florida ambush
Early Mr. Submarine partner embroiled in series of lawsuits over sale of gambling ships
Philip Mascoll

One of the early partners in the Toronto-based Mr. Submarine chain of sandwich shops has been slain in a spectacular ambush in Florida.

Former business associates here were shocked at the news.

Millionaire Gus Boulis was driving a luxury car in Fort Lauderdale late Tuesday when he was boxed in by two other vehicles and shot several times by a gunman in one of them, Florida police said yesterday.

The wounded Boulis, 51, then drove several blocks before his car crashed into a tree in front of a Miami Subs shop, one of the chain of fast-food restaurants he started in south Florida after leaving Toronto. The chain became famous for selling $99 bottles of Dom Perignon champagne along with its sandwiches.

“Whoever committed the homicide had planned to shoot him,” Fort Lauderdale police Detective Mike Reed said. “They knew the travel routes. They knew what they were doing.”

“Anyone who's had a past with Mr. Boulis we'll be talking to,” Reed said. He said the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies are being asked for help in identifying Boulis' enemies.

Garth Garner, Mr. Submarine's director of marketing, said in Toronto yesterday Boulis “was part of the early owners group” and those who remembered him were shocked at the news.

Records show Boulis came from Greece in 1968, and stayed with the Canadian sandwich shop chain for several years, during which time Mr. Submarine started to expand, Garner said.

“He then sold his interest to the remaining owners and moved south,” Garner said.

Boulis started Fort Lauderdale-based Miami Subs in 1979 after taking over a floundering string of taco shops. Hot dog chain Nathan's Famous bought a controlling interest in Miami Subs in 1999 for a reported $4.2 million (U.S.). The chain now has 150 restaurants in 12 states.

Boulis also founded the controversial SunCruz gambling business and was involved in the hotel and development industry. SunCruz ships sail from 10 Florida ports into international waters where there are no laws against gambling.

State regulators tried to shut down the company and it tangled with several local jurisdictions as it grew into the largest casino ship business in Florida.

Boulis started the company in 1994, but was forced to sell it last year and pay a $500,000 fine because he bought the 11-boat fleet in 1997, when he was not a U.S. citizen, which is illegal.

In recent months, Boulis had been embroiled in a series of lawsuits and countersuits over his $147.5 million sale of SunCruz last September to a group headed by Washington lawyer, Adam Kidan.

Kidan received a restraining order against Boulis in December, claiming the businessman jumped from his seat during a meeting and attacked him. A month earlier, Kidan said in court papers, Boulis threatened to have him beaten or killed.

Additionally, Boulis was being sued for child support and alimony by a former girlfriend. And an ex-girlfriend obtained a restraining order against him in 1997, saying he punched her and threatened to kill her and her children.

Boulis also was being sued by former SunCruz partner Dewayne Williams, who said Boulis cheated him out of his share when he sold the company to Kidan's group.

In a lawsuit, Boulis claimed Kidan and his partners had bounced cheques, failed to repay $2.5 million he left with the company and broke a contract requiring them to return 5 per cent of the business if they failed to get financing for $30 million of the purchase price.

The Miami Herald newspaper described Boulis as a “millionaire development mogul who changed the landscape of south Florida.”

Police said Boulis' shooting was initially reported as a possible “road rage” attack. But later, police hinted it was a planned execution.

“They (the killers) probably knew who he was. They were probably waiting,” police said.

Boulis was driving on an isolated road Tuesday night when a car pulled in front of his and stopped, police said. Another car then pulled up alongside.

One of the two men inside the second car fired at Boulis, and the two cars fled.

Boulis, shot multiple times, managed to drive on to a busy street before crashing into a tree.

Police and rescue workers found Boulis slumped in the driver's seat. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

With files from Reuters and Associated Press

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