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Kent Taylor, Texas Roadhouse CEO Who Gave Salary to Help Employees, Dies at 65

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Kent Taylor, founder and CEO of popular restaurant chain Texas Roadhouse, has died aged 65, his family and the company have said. Taylor donated his entire salary during the COVID-19 pandemic to help the chain’s employees.

Taylor’s family said in a statement that he had taken his own life after battling post-COVID symptoms. Both the family and Texas Roadhouse praised him as a people-focused leader.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Kent Taylor. He founded Texas Roadhouse and dedicated himself to building it into a legendary experience for ‘Roadies’ and restaurant guests alike,” Texas Roadhouse Lead Director Greg Moore said in a statement.

“During the pandemic, he gave up his entire compensation package to help support his frontline workers,” Moore said.

“This selfless act was no surprise to anyone who knew Kent and his strong belief in servant leadership. 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.”

Taylor’s family later issued their own statement mourning his death and offering more information about his passing. They also highlighted Taylor’s role as a leader at Texas Roadhouse.

“Our community and the restaurant industry lost a legend and the Taylor family lost a wonderful son, father and grandad this week,” the family said.

We will miss you, Kent. Because of you and your dream of Texas Roadhouse, we get to say we ❤ our jobs every day. #WeLoveYouKent #TXRHFamily #RoadhouseStrong pic.twitter.com/GZEkUJspoA

— Texas Roadhouse (@texasroadhouse) March 19, 2021

“After a battle with post-Covid related symptoms, including severe tinnitus, Kent Taylor took his own life this week. Kent battled and fought hard like the former track champion that he was, but the suffering that greatly intensified in recent days became unbearable.

“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,” the statement read.

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His family said that Kent “changed the lives of hundreds of millions of employees and guests” during 28 years with the company.

“He also impacted hundreds of thousands of people through his generous and often anonymous donations,” the statement added.

“All who knew him will miss him greatly and Kent’s direction was always clear. Happy employees make happy guests,” the family’s statement went on. “We are saddened by the decision Kent felt he needed to make and want to emphasize more than ever the importance of reaching out for help if you or someone you love is suffering.

“As Kent would so often say, ‘keep it legendary.'”

If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. The line is available 24 hours, every day.

The entrance to the Texas Roadhouse restaurant is viewed on May 11, 2018 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Roadhouse founder and CEO Kent Taylor has died at 65.
George Rose/Getty Images

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