One of the founders and the CEO of the Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, the largest Caribbean franchise chain in the U.S., was found dead inside his Bronx factory Saturday, according to police sources.
Former and current employees gathered outside the Claremont facility on Park Avenue near 173rd Street on Saturday night, where police sources say Lowell Hawthorne’s body was found by a family member around 5:30 p.m.
Authorities say the 57-year-old sustained a single self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
In 1989, Lowell and his wife Lorna, along with four of his siblings and their spouses, pooled all their resources together to open the first Golden Krust retail location. They now have more than 120 stores in nine states, and their beef patties are sold in many stores.
Hawthorne posted to his Facebook page earlier this week in a message in which he seemed proud of his work. It said, in part, "Like many transplanted Caribbean nationals, I struggled to work and raise a family. I can only thank God for everything I have achieved, and if my story here can inspire others to rise up and give it a go, then I would have succeeded in doing something meaningful."
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."