The founder and CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill killed himself inside his Bronx factory on Saturday, police sources said. Lowell Hawthorne, 57, shot himself inside the Park Avenue building about 5:30 pm, sources said.
More than a dozen current and former employees stood in disbelief outside the factory for hours.
Hawthorne opened the first Golden Krust store on E Gun Hill Road in 1989.
He built the Jamaica beef patty purveyor into a national empire boasting more than 120 restaurants in nine states. It also produces more than 50 million patties a year for retail stores, and supplies them to about 20,000 outlets.
We believe in the power of the patty, Hawthorne said in May.
Some of his employees said they suspected something was amiss when they spotted his car, a silver Tesla 85D, parked oddly outside the factory. It was left straddling two lanes.
Everald Woods said he loved working with 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 that long. He takes care of his employees.
Woods said he was stunned to learn that Hawthorne had taken his life.
I didn't believe the news when I heard it at first, Woods added. I don't know if the pressure of running the business was too much, but I'm shocked.
Mr. Hawthorne has definitely left an imprint on society. He worked hard and played hard as well. He did his utmost best to create the kind of world he wanted to live in. Most important, he helped others along the way. His inability to cope with his what went on within him only goes to show how that stress, depression...are as silent as cancer especially where our health is concerned. His inability to cope and overcome whatever illness drove him to SUCH DEMISE, is a clear demonstration of how vulnerable we all are to what's going on within us. Unfortunately because a great number of us from the Caribbean tend to look at mental health a taboo, malady, demonic, and are quick to associate the disease with voodoo, we may reject counseling and seek professional help. A great number of us-Caribbean-Americans are damaged goods...bullied, socially, mentally, politically...abused. A great number of us have suppressed those adverse episodes most of our lives. It's my hope that we will be kind enough to search ourselves before jumping to conclusions on the tragedy of Mr. Hawthorne. He may have had everything going for him through hard work. Nevertheless, something was going on within the brother.
It's my hope that we as a people will find a stranger, some you'll never see again to confide in when you are feeling alone, stressed and depressed to talk to. The Observer has always sought a stranger to share his problems with. A stranger is always more trustworthy than a family member or friend. And Grenadians, stop telling those you come into contact with "Get over it" whenever they cry out to you about their feelings. Dealing with people's feelings is not like planting yam, digging pit or begging for drink.
Then Observer is only observing!