Lowell Hawthorne, the founder and CEO of the Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, most famous for its Jamaican beef patties, has died of an apparent suicide, according to law enforcement. He was 57 years old.
Hawthorne reportedly shot himself inside his Bronx, N.Y., factory about 5:30 p.m. Saturday, the New York Post reports.
Many familiar with Golden Krust also became acquainted with Hawthorne himself thanks to a 2016 Undercover Boss episode in which he starred.
The Post reports that Hawthorne immigrated to the United States from Jamaica and opened the first Golden Krust store in the Bronx in 1989. Hawthorne; his wife, Lorna; and four of his siblings and their spouses pooled their money to get the store off the ground.
At the time of Hawthorne’s death, Golden Krust operated or franchised 120 locations in nine states.
Many of his employees reacted with sadness and shock at the news of his passing.
“The Jamaican people, they feel it. All of us are Jamaican. We lost a Jamaican, we feel it,” three-year employee John Harrison told the New York Post.
Hanaku Oxori, who had worked at the plant for 17 years, said the suicide was “a surprise.”
“We saw him every day. He talks to everyone. He was always in a good mood,’’ he added.
The founder of the fast-food empire was chairman of the American Foundation of the University of the West Indies, according to the Jamaica Gleaner. In 2000 he won the Entrepreneur of the Year award from the accounting firm Ernst & Young.
Hawthorne also wrote a book, The Baker’s Son: My Life in Business, published in 2012.
Hawthorne is survived by his wife, Lorna, and his four children, all of whom worked for the company: Daren, a lawyer who’s corporate counsel; Omar, director of franchising; Monique, who runs the company’s foundation; and Haywood, vice president of manufacturing.