Kent Taylor, CEO of Texas Roadhouse, dies by suicide at age 65 after suffering severe post-COVID symptoms
Kent Taylor, the founder and CEO of Texas Roadhouse, died by suicide Thursday. He was 65.
Taylor’s family said he was suffering from severe post-COVID symptoms, CNN reported.
Taylor had tinnitus, which causes a ringing in the ears. Studies have suggested COVID could both cause and intensify tinnitus in some cases.
“Kent battled and fought hard like the former track champion that he was, but the suffering that greatly intensified in recent days became unbearable,” Taylor’s family said, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Taylor gave up his CEO’s salary from March 2020 until January 2021 to help pay frontline workers amid the pandemic.
“What kind of company does these things? Well, that would be a people company that happens to serve steaks, that’s who,” he wrote in a letter at the time.
Taylor founded Texas Roadhouse in 1993, but experienced early struggles, as three of the first five restaurants failed. Despite the name and Taylor’s signature 10-gallon hat, the chain started in Louisville, Ky., and was headquartered there.
Ever the entrepreneur, Taylor bounced back from the tough start, and now Texas Roadhouse has around 600 locations and 75,000 employees. He later launched two more restaurants, Bubba’s 33 and Jaggers.
“I encourage us to have creative people that try creative things,” Taylor told the Louisville Business Journal in December. “I have this creative problem. Every few years I have to create something.”
Taylor recently funded a study to help military members suffering from tinnitus, Louisville NBC affiliate WAVE reported.
“Kent leaves an unmatched legacy as a people-first leader,” his family said. “He changed the lives of hundreds of millions of employees and guests over the past 28 years.”
The National Suicide Prevent Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and available to anyone experiencing a suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
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