Golden Krust CEO Lowell Hawthorne found dead at 57
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — 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, police said.
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. ET Saturday.
Preliminary indications suggest Hawthorne took his own life but police continue investigating the circumstances leading up to the Golden Krust CEO’s death.
With his family’s help, Hawthorne opened the first Golden Krust store in the Bronx in 1989 upon arriving from Jamaica at the age of 21 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.”
Lowell Hawthorne of Greenburgh, CEO of Golden Krust restaurants, holds a case of meat patties at his Bronx factory in 2013. Golden Krust plans to move its operations to Rockland, to a sprawling $37 million bakery, distribution center and corporate facility it will build on Route 303 in Orangetown, according to documents filed with the Rockland Industrial Development Agency. (Photo: Ricky Flores/The Journal News)
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.
A sign on Route 303 in Orangetown advertises the future home of the world headquarters for Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill. The Bronx-based bakery plans a $37 million bakery, distribution facility and corporate suite, according to its Rockland Industrial Development Agency application. (Photo: Peter D. Kramer/The Journal News)
In 2013, Hawthorne penned a memoir, The Baker’s Son.
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.
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