Lowell Hawthorne, the CEO and founder of Jamaican restaurant chain Golden Krust, has died at the age of 57.
According to the New York Daily News, the well-known businessman shot himself at around 5:30 p.m. Saturday in his Bronx factory. Several employees told the publication they suspected something was wrong when they noticed his car was carelessly parked outside of the building.
“He was a nice boss, a wonderful guy,” said Everald Woods, an employee at Golden Krust since 2003. “He’s the kind of guy you want to work for that long. He takes care of his employees.”
Woods added: “I didn’t believe the news when I heard it at first. I don’t know if the pressure of running the business was too much, but I’m shocked.”
Colleagues and Golden Krust patrons expressed their condolences online:
Hawthorne opened the first Golden Krust in 1989, specializing in Jamaican beef patties. The business has since become the largest Caribbean restaurant franchise in the United States, with more than 120 locations in nine states.
Hawthorne, who was widely referred to as the “Patty King,” has received numerous honors for his philanthropy and business achievements, including the Entrepreneur of the Year award from the accounting firm Ernst & Young.