Vigil set for pattie king/Jamaican food entrepreneur commits suicide

The late Lowell Hawthorne authored a book about his life and career as CEO/president of Golden Krust. See his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pg/LowellHawthorne/posts.
Courtesy of Facebook

A candlelight vigil is planned for the co-founder and president/CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, the largest manufacturer of Jamaican beef patties in the USA, after sunset on Saturday, December 9, at its original store, 1381 E. Gun Hill Road.

Lowell Hawthorne, 57, died of a single self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in his office at 3958 Park Avenue on the night of Saturday, December 2, according to law enforcement sources.

Hawthorne’s nephew Steven Clarke, director of marketing and public relations, said the vigil will take place “where the journey began” in 1989 as he reflected on the successful life of his uncle, whom he said “was like a father to me.”

Golden Krust personnel will be at the site from about 1 to 9 p.m. the day of the remembrance, according to Clarke. Radio station 93.5 will be broadcasting live from about 2 to 6 p.m.

Since Hawthorne was very involved in the community and local organizations, the vigil will be an “opportunity for everyone to mourn collectively,” Clarke said.

“The family is still mourning and expecting people to respect our privacy,” Clarke said, adding that as a family business, it is difficult to mourn and still run the business.

“We all knew who he was — a champion in his own right, in the community, in the churches, in his household,” Clarke said. “He was an icon, a motivator, a leader, mentor, just a one-of-a-kind guy.”

The family is “flattened and shocked, grieving and angry — a big mixup of emotions right now,” Clarke said, adding that no funeral arrangements had yet been finalized.

From a business standpoint, all of the Golden Krust stores have remained open, and a succession plan to replace Hawthorne is in the works.

Golden Krust plans to release statements on its public Facebook page, if anyone wants to read updates, according to Clarke. The web address is: www.facebook.com/GoldenKrustBakery.

City and state officials released statements on Hawthorne’s passing.

“Lowell Hawthorne was a good friend, and was always ready to help my office whenever we needed him,” said Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. “He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and employees during this difficult time.”

Assemblyman Michael Blake said it was a shocking surprise to learn of the loss of Lowell Hawthorne.

“Our team is sending his family at the entire Golden Krust team love, prayers and strength,” Blake said. “Golden Krust is a hallmark in our community located in our assembly district, and employs hundreds of our residents. I’ve had the honor of collaborating and spending time with the Hawthorne family, a pillar in the Minority and Women Business Enterprises space, and who regularly provides community support.”

Councilman Andy King said he was saddened to hear about the tragic death of the Jamaican patties firm’s founder.

“Over the years, my office and our community have had a great partnership with Golden Krust, its CEO, bakery owners and employees on a number of community events,” King said. “On behalf of the residents of the 12th Council District, our prayers and condolences go out to Brother Lowell’s family, friends and employees at this very sad and heart-breaking time in their lives.”

Nunzio Del Greco, president and CEO, Bronx Chamber of Commerce, said he was shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Lowell Hawthorne of Golden Krust.

“He was a successful entrepreneur and built an impressive business fulfilling the American dream from Jamaica to the Bronx,” Del Greco said. “Our sincere condolences to his family, employees and friends.”

Lowell Hawthorne emigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica and opened his first restaurant featuring Jamaican delicacies at 1381 E. Gun Hill Road in 1989.

The business began franchising in 1996 and currently has 120 locations in nine states, including 17 in New York.

Hawthorne wrote a book, ‘The Baker’s Son,’ about his life in the Caribbean and his success in New York.

He left a positive message shortly before he took his life. The reason for his actions was not clear at press time.

Reach Reporter Bob Guiliano at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at bguiliano@cnglocal.com.
A makeshift memorial consisting of flowers and candles were placed outside of Golden Krust to honor Hawthorne’s memory.
Photo by Edwin Soto

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