The Jamaican owner of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill reportedly took his own life in his New York factory over the weekend.
Lowell Hawthorne, 57, apparently shot himself in the facility on Saturday. The Golden Krust CEO’s body was found that evening.
Police are continuing investigations into the circumstances surrounding his death, however.
Hawthorne opened the first Golden Krust store in the Bronx in 1989, after arriving from Jamaica at the age of 21. Over the next 28 years, Golden Krust expanded to 120 franchises across the United States, selling beef patties and jerk chicken.
In recent years, he had been honoured by Children of Jamaica Outreach Inc. (COJO) for his continuous support in providing scholarships and endowments for underserved children in his homeland.
COJO hosted its 23rd Annual Gala on the same evening Hawthorne’s body was discovered.
COJO chairman and founder Gary Williams, who had a time-honoured relationship with Hawthorne, expressed shock at his death, according to the Jamaica Gleaner.
“[It’s] very, very sad because we were packing the goodie bags [for the gala] with the Golden Krust buns and newsletter when I got the call. I was shocked and in total disbelief,” he said.
“Everyone knows Lowell Hawthorne as an icon in our community, an inspiration to all of us, and Golden Krust is a part of everything – they bought tickets for the event…as well. So hearing that was like….It is a loss for us and my heart goes out to his family.”