*Authorities in New York, not to mention, family members and friends, are trying to figure out why 57-year-old Lowell Hawthorne, the CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, killed himself inside his Bronx factory Saturday.
The NY Daily News reports that Hawthorne, 57, shot himself inside the Park Ave. building near E. 173rd St. in Claremont about 5:30 p.m., sources said.
“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.”
Hawthorne founded and opened the first Golden Krust store 198 and his company grew nationally to over 120 restaurants in nine states.
An associate of Hawthorne’s was also perplexed as to why the businessman would kill himself.
“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.”
NEWS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: GRAMMY NOMS, PRINCE HARRY’S SWIRL, & MATT LAUER SAYS BUH BYE | BHL THIS WEEK
The NY Daily News reports that some of Hawthorne’s employees said they suspected something was off when they observed his car parked oddly outside the factory. The silver Tesla 85D was left in the road blocking a lane of traffic.
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.
Before he founded Golden Krust – which was inspired by his father’s baker in Jamaica – Hawthorne briefly worked as an accountant for the NYPD.
According to its website, Golden Krust also had the distinction of being became the first Caribbean-owned business in the U.S. to be granted a franchise license.
His memoir, “The Baker’s Son: My Life in Business,” was published in 2012.
“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.
LoHud.com is reporting that Hawthorne’s death now raises questions for his friends and family, and for big plans he had for his company.
The report goes on to note that he had been in talks for years to locate the Golden Krust world headquarters in Orangetown. The $37 million facility, near a sprawling FedEx hub off Al Foxie Way about a mile south of the New York State Thruway, was to consolidate all of Hawthorne’s operations: manufacturing, distribution and corporate. Plans called for 190 employees, 83 of whom would be filling new manufacturing jobs in Rockland.