Kent Taylor
Source: Texas Roadhouse

Texas Roadhouse Founder and CEO Kent Taylor Dies at 65

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Mar. 22 2021, Published 12:03 p.m. ET

Businessman Kent Taylor, the founder and CEO of Texas Roadhouse, died on March 18 after battling COVID-19-related symptoms, his family announced.

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Greg Moore, lead director of Texas Roadhouse Inc., said in a press release that the company is “deeply saddened” by the 65-year-old’s passing. 

“He founded Texas Roadhouse and dedicated himself to building it into a legendary experience for ‘Roadies’ and restaurant guests alike,” Moore added. “He was, without a doubt, a people-first leader. His entrepreneurial spirit will live on in the company he built, the projects he supported and the lives he touched.”

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Kent Taylor’s cause of death

Taylor committed suicide after battling “post-COVID-related symptoms, including severe tinnitus,” his family said in a statement, according to the Louisville Courier Journal. Tinnitus is an experience of ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, hissing, or humming in the ears unrelated to any external sound, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“Kent battled and fought hard like the former track champion that he was, but the suffering that greatly intensified in recent days became unbearable,” the family’s statement added. “But in true Kent fashion, he always found a silver lining to help others. Most recently, he committed to fund a clinical study to help members of the military who also suffer with tinnitus.”

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Kent Taylor’s COVID-19 pandemic response

Taylor not only bought PPE for the employees of the nearly 600 Texas Roadhouse locations, but he also donated his yearly salary and bonus—a compensation package worth more than $800,000—to support his workers, according to People. He donated an additional $5 million to Andy’s Outreach, which is an employee emergency fund he set up 18 years ago. 

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“It’s how I was raised. I did what I felt was right,” Taylor told People in June 2020. “This is that kind of time where you have to persist and think differently and take care of those that are with you and lift everyone’s spirits and march forward.”

In Texas Roadhouse’s press release, Moore said that Taylor’s “selfless act” of donating his compensation package “was no surprise to anyone who knew Kent and his strong belief in servant leadership.”

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Kent Taylor’s net worth

As of March 15, Taylor was worth at least $601 million—including his ownership of more than 70,000 units of Texas Roadhouse Inc. stock (NASDAQ:TXRH), worth more than $290 million—according to Wallmine.

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Kent Taylor was married twice.

According to The New York Times, Taylor was married twice and both ended in divorce. He is survived by his parents and by three children—Michelle, Brittney, and Max.

On March 19, Texas Roadhouse Inc. announced that company president Jerry Morgan would assume the role of CEO effective immediately. “Jerry’s operational background and 20-plus years of Texas Roadhouse experience will be key in helping the Company and Roadies move forward after such a tragic loss,” Moore said at the time.

If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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