by Howard Campbell
Stratford, Connecticut – With its scenic landscape and quaint communities, Stratford, Connecticut is your typical New England town. Seems a perfect place to open a West Indian restaurant.
The Golden Krust franchise, wildly popular in the Jamaican and West Indian Diaspora, opened in Stratford (140 E. Main Street) in August last year. The 800 square-foot restaurant employs 20 workers and is managed by Marcia Hawthorne and her partner Shawn French.
This is their 10th restaurant, and first in New England. Hawthorne said demand for Golden Krust was high in Stratford, which has a population of just over 53,000.
“It’s no secret or surprise that everyone wants to have a Golden Krust in their neighborhood or nearby. While that’s impossible to fulfill that ask, we try to strategically open stores in centralized areas which is relatively accessible to most. Stratford was that fit,” Hawthorne disclosed.
Stratford, like many New England locations, was settled in the 17th century by people fleeing England due to religious persecution. It was home for many years to Sikorsky Aircraft, manufacturers of Air Force One, official helicopter of the United States president.
Although it does not have a large Jamaican or West Indian community, Hawthorne said Stratford has warmed to Golden Krust and its tropical menu which includes staples such as jerked chicken, curried goat and escoveitched fish.
“Everyone has been so appreciative of us coming to Stratford. We have patrons from all walks of life and the consensus is the same. They’re happy we are in Stratford and some are just relieved that they don’t have to make the one-hour plus drive to New York to get their Caribbean ‘goodies’,” she explained. “I guess we can say the feeling is mutual because we appreciate them just as much. We cannot thank everyone enough for their loyalty, continued support and patronage.”
Marcia Hawthorne is the niece of Lowell Hawthorne, founder of the Golden Krust empire. She was born in the United States and French in Jamaica; they were educated in New York and New Jersey, respectively.
They also operate Golden Krust franchises in The Bronx, Queens, Teaneck, New Jersey and Tamarac, South Florida.
Expanding to New England is a sign of bigger plans.
“For us, the sky is limitless, so the possibilities are as well. It is with this mindset that we are able to stay motivated, determined and relevant,” said Hawthorne.