Unfortunately the founder and CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill has killed himself inside his Bronx factory Saturday, Bronx police are stating. This is a huge loss in the Jamaican community, out hearts go out to his friends and family.
Often referred to as the ‘Patty King’, he is regularly cited as an example of Jamaican entrepreneurial success overseas, so this death will hurt a lot of people who looked up to him as an example of what to do when you want your business. He produced more than 50 million patties a year for retail stores and supplies them to about 20,000 outlets, according to The New York Times.
“We believe in the power of the patty,” Hawthorne told The Times in May.
According to the police report, Golden Krust Lowell Hawthorne, 57, shot himself inside of his Park Ave. building office near E. 173rd St. in Claremont about 5:30 p.m.
Hours after the news broke of his death dozens of current and former employees stood around the office building in shock.
According to the DailyMail
“He was a good boss, humble and a good businessman,” said Pete Tee, 27, a former employee.
“He never seemed sad. This is just terrible news right now.”
Hawthorne opened the first Golden Krust store on E. Gun Hill Rd. in 1989.
He went on to build the Jamaica beef patty purveyor into a national empire boasting more than 120 restaurants in nine states.
Pat Russo, who has worked with Hawthorne since the 1990s, was confounded by the news that his fellow businessman had taken his own life.
“It doesn’t make any sense. He had everything to live for,” said Russo, who is the president of Chef’s Choice food company.
“He was a brilliant business guy. The perfect American success story.”
Hawthorne’s death sent shockwaves from the streets of the Bronx to government offices in Jamaica where Prime Minister Andrew Holness fired off a tweet offering his condolences.
Some of Hawthorne’s employees said they suspected something was amiss when they spotted his car, a silver Tesla 85D, parked oddly outside the factory. The luxury ride was left in the road blocking a lane of traffic.
Longtime employee Everald Woods said he loved working under Hawthorne.
“He was a nice boss, a wonderful guy,” said Woods, an employee since 2003. “He’s the kind of guy you want to work for for that long. He takes care of his employees.”
Family friend Wayne Muschamb said Hawthorne was an inspiration to his countrymen in Jamaica. “Look how far he reached. He’s known from here to Jamaica,” Muschamb said. “I’m kind of lost for words, man. This has got me shocked.”
Hawthorne’s rags-to-riches story was set in motion in 1981 when he followed several relatives to the U.S. from Jamaica in search of opportunity.
He briefly worked as an accountant for the NYPD before deciding to build a business inspired by his father’s bakery back home.
Golden Krust became the first Caribbean-owned business in the U.S. to be granted a franchise license, according to its website.
In 2012, he published “The Baker’s Son: My Life in Business,” a memoir.
Hawthorne appeared on CBS’ Undercover Boss in 2016.
News of Hawthorne’s death traveled fast. The prime minister of Jamaica tweeted, “My condolences to the friends, family and employees of Jamaica-born Lowell Hawthorne.”
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. also offered his condolences, adding, “Hawthorne was a good friend, and was always ready to help my office whenever we needed him. He will be sorely missed.”