A report from Blavity.
Saturday evening, more than a dozen current and former Golden Krust employees stood around the company’s Bronx factory in disbelief. According to police, their boss – 57-year-old Founder and CEO Lowell Hawthorne – committed suicide in the factory around 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 2. According to reports, the businessman shot himself inside the Park Avenue building near E. 173 St. in Claremont.
“He was a good boss, humble and a good businessman,” former employee Pete Tee, 27, told New York Daily News. “He never seemed sad. This is just terrible news right now.”
Some of Hawthornes employees said they suspected something was wrong when they saw Hawthorne’s silver Tesla 85D parked in the road blocking traffic outside of the factory.
The news of Hawthorne’s death shocked those in the Bronx community and the people of his home island. Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness expressed his condolences on Twitter.
Hawthorne’s inspiring story started in 1981 when he followed several relatives from Jamaica to the U.S. in search of more opportunities. He briefly worked as an accountant for the New York Police Department before he decided to start his own business inspired by his father’s bakery in Jamaica. In 1989, he opened his first Golden Krust on E. Gun Hill Road. Over the years, the Caribbean bakery and grill became a national empire with more than 120 restaurants in nine states.
Hawthorne published the book “A Baker’s Son: My Life in Business” in 2012. According to the company’s website, Golden Krust became the first Caribbean-owned business in the U.S. to receive a franchise license.
Pat Russo has worked with Hawthorne since the 1990s. He said the news of his fellow businessman’s death was a shock. “It doesn’t make any sense. He had everything to live for,” Russo said. “He was a brilliant business guy. The perfect American success story.”