Owner of New York-based Caribbean chain Golden Krust died by suicide over the weekend at 57 years old — some 28 years after founding the fast food restaurant with more than 120 locations nationwide.
Lowell Hawthorne was found dead by a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the company’s factory in Bronx on Saturday. Police sources say that Hawthorne was afraid that the government was investigating him for tax evasion.
The Jamaican immigrant opened the first location of Golden Krust in Bronx in 1989 based on his father’s recipes, and now, the chain has franchise locations in nine states. The flagship beef patties with a flaky crust are also sold in grocery stores across the country. Throughout the massive growth, members of Hawthorne’s family still ran most of the company’s operation.
Friends, staff, and other supporters left condolences at the factory throughout the weekend, leaving flowers and remembering Hawthorne at the 3958 Park Avenue building, according to various media reports. People have been flooding Golden Krust’s social media with memories as well, saying that he was “a symbol of Jamaican entrepreneurship.”
In a Facebook post last week, Hawthorne wrote about his legacy:
“I was always in search of the next honest means to make a dollar. 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.”
Funeral arrangements are still being made. Hawthorne’s nephew Steven Clarke, who is also a spokesperson for the company, tells the Times that the family is mourning, as well as assuring franchisees that they are prepared “to carry out our uncle’s mission.”