Founder & CEO Of Golden Crust Caribbean Bakery & Grill Commits Suicide Inside Of His Bronx Factory

GoldenKrust

By Daily News

The founder and CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill who once appeared on “Undercover Boss” killed himself inside his Bronx factory Saturday, police sources said.

Lowell Hawthorne, 57, shot himself inside the Park Ave. building near E. 173rd St. in Claremont about 5:30 p.m., sources said.

More than a dozen current and former employees stood in disbelief outside the factory hours later. Some had tears rolling down their cheeks.

“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.”

CARIBBEAT: Golden Krust president is going ‘Undercover’

Lowell Hawthorne, who started the Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery with a Bronx storefront, had since moved production of his meat patties to a Bronx facility. He took his own life there Saturday evening.

Lowell Hawthorne, who started the Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery with a Bronx storefront, had since moved production of his meat patties to a Bronx facility. He took his own life there Saturday evening.

(DAVID HANDSCHUH/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Hawthorne opened the first Golden Krust store on E. Gun Hill Rd. in 1989.

The Jamaica-born owner went on to build the beef-patty purveyor into a national empire with more than 120 restaurants in nine states.

In May of last year, Hawthorne starred in an episode of CBS’ “Undercover Boss,” and discovered some of his chefs “aren’t on the same cookbook page,” according to the CBS website.

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Hawthorne's friends, family and colleagues mourn for him.

Hawthorne’s friends, family and colleagues mourn for him.

(ANGUS MORDANT FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Pat Russo, who has worked with Hawthorne since the 1990s, was confounded by the news that his fellow businessman had taken his own life.

Memoir tells rags-to-riches story of Caribbean grill 

“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 (below), 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.”

Some of Hawthorne's employees said they suspected something was amiss when they spotted his silver Tesla 85D parked oddly outside the factory. It was left straddling two lanes.

Some of Hawthorne’s employees said they suspected something was amiss when they spotted his silver Tesla 85D parked oddly outside the factory. It was left straddling two lanes.

(ANGUS MORDANT FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

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.

Workers stand outside the Golden Krust's factory on Park Ave. after Hawthorne committed suicide inside.

Workers stand outside the Golden Krust’s factory on Park Ave. after Hawthorne committed suicide inside.

(ANGUS MORDANT FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Golden Krust became the first Caribbean-owned business in the U.S. to be granted a franchise license, according to its website. The company produces more than 50 million patties a year that are sold in retail stores.

In 2012, he published a memoir, “The Baker’s Son.”

“It’s a very humbling experience to know that the concept that began in Jamaica with our parents was able to come here,” Hawthorne told the Daily News at the time. Read More

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