Lowell Hawthorne, the 57-year-old founder and chief executive of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, died this week in his New York factory, reportedly of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
According to the New York Daily News, Hawthorne was born in Jamaica, and in 1989 he opened his first Golden Krust bakery in the Bronx in New York. The bakery was famous for its beef patties and other Caribbean specialties, and it has an extensive menu featuring jerk chicken, ackee and cod fish, and braised oxtail.
Hawthorne grew the bakery into a franchise with more than 120 stores in nine states. It operated under the motto, “We take the taste of the Caribbean to the world.” It’s the largest Caribbean franchise chain in the U.S., and Golden Krust’s famous beef patties are sold frozen in grocery stores.
Hawthorne’s apparent suicide shocked his friends, employees, and business associates this weekend. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness shared his condolences on Twitter.
Hawthorne’s employees described him as a good boss who took care of his employees. Everald Woods, an employee since 2003, said Hawthorne was “the kind of guy you want to work for.”
His friends and business associates called him a brilliant businessman and “the perfect American success story.”
“Look how far he reached. He’s known from here to Jamaica,” family friend Wayne Muschamb told the Daily News. “I’m kind of lost for words, man. This has got me shocked.”