BRONX, New York- Lowell Hawthorne, who built a Caribbean food empire popularizing the Jamaican beef patty from coast to coast, was found dead inside his Bronx factory Saturday night from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, lohud.com reports.
The body of Hawthorne, 57, of Greenburgh, the president of the Golden Krust Bakery and Grill, was discovered inside the Park Avenue factory in the Claremont section of the Bronx around 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
The New York City Medical Examiner’s office has ruled the Golden Krust CEO’s death a suicide, saying the cause was a gunshot wound to the head.
With his family’s help, Hawthorne opened the first Golden Krust store in the Bronx in 1989 with a secret recipe for beef patties, spicy beef encased in flaky dough, a popular staple of the island nation.
Over the next 28 years, Golden Krust expanded to some 120 franchises across the U.S., selling beef patties and jerk chicken under the motto, “We take the taste of the Caribbean to the world.”
The epicenter of the sprawling franchise – from East Coast storefronts to ShopRites and Costcos further west – was Golden Krust’s Park Avenue factory, built in 1996.
In 2016, the company announced plans to center its nationwide operations on a 17-acre plot on Route 303 in Orangetown, a mile south of the New York State Thruway.
The $37 million Golden Krust headquarters remains in the planning phase. But the company had already won the support of the Rockland Industrial Development Agency, which negotiated more than $1.2 million in tax incentives to lure Golden Krust north.
The plan was to consolidate the company’s legal and corporate offices in a new 100,000-square-foot building that would house a factory to turn out Golden Krust patties, breads and pastries.
In 2013, Hawthorne penned a memoir, “The Baker’s Son,” the report explained.
In it, he recalled a childhood in Jamaica, where at the age of 10, he was raising rabbits, chicken and guinea pigs.
While standing in the customs line at John F. Kennedy International Airport the day after his 21st birthday he imagined the opportunities that lay ahead.
“This is the kind of place that embraces immigrants,” he thought.