The founder and CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Restaurant and Bakery shot and killed himself in one of his factories in Bronx, NY earlier today, according to the New York Police Department (NYPD).
Lowell Hawthorne, 57, shot himself twice in the head inside the Park Ave. building near E. 173rd St. in Claremont about 5:30 p.m., the NYPD said.
A large crowd of current employees, former employees and franchisee owners were seen standing outside the factory with tears streaming down their faces.
“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.”
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 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.”
Hawthorne opened the first Golden Krust store on E. Gun Hill Rd. in 1989.
He built the Jamaica beef patty purveyor into a national empire boasting more than 120 restaurants across the U.S.
It also produces 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.