The Founder & CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill was found dead inside in his Bronx factory Saturday evening (Dec. 2) in what authorities are reporting as a suicide.
According to reports, Lowell Hawthorne, 57, shot himself inside the Park Avenue building near E. 173rd Street. in Claremont at about 5:30PM. Employees who worked closely with Hawthorne expressed a range of emotions from shock to sadness.
“He was a good boss, humble and a good businessman,” Pete Tate, a former employee said. “He never seemed sad. This is just terrible news right now.”
Hawthorne opened the first Golden Krust restaurant in 1989 on E. Gun Hill Road and later went onto build a chain of stores selling Jamaican beef patties along with other cuisine intrinsic to the island. In total, Hawthorne owned and operated 120 stores in nine states.
One of Hawthorne’s longest employees Pat Russo spoke with The New York Daily News and didn’t quite know how to wrap his mind around the surprising death.
“It doesn’t make any sense. He had everything to live for,” Russo, who is president of the Chef’s Choice food company, said. “He was a brilliant business guy. The perfect American success story.”
Upon learning of Russo’s death, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holmes took to Twitter to express his grief.
My condolences to the friends, family and employees of Jamaica-born Lowell Hawthorne, CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill.
He headed the largest Caribbean franchise chain in the US, with more than 120 stores. pic.twitter.com/PX9MpD2Mkg
— Andrew Holness (@AndrewHolnessJM) December 3, 2017
Along Holmes there were others who took to social media to express their sadness.
Golden Krust has been an integral part of my life and as a Jamaican, always promised some remnant of home. I’m really sad to hear about the suicide of the founder. People are saying, “it doesn’t make sense, he had everything,” but suicide is a result of internal pain.
— Chantal (@Chantaljs13) December 3, 2017
Golden Krust was good because you never had to walk in and hear, “we nuh ave dat.” They always ave’d.
— Professor Sexavier (@notmadjustmean) December 3, 2017
RIP to the Founder of Golden Krust.. Blessings and Respect to him family ❤️🇯🇲
Suicide is real… Reach out to people, learn how to just listen and not judge.
— ShayNast. (@MissssShay) December 3, 2017