Kent Taylor, Texas Roadhouse founder and CEO, dies at 65
Originally Published: 20 MAR 21 20:56 ET
Updated: 21 MAR 21 08:32 ET
By Claudia Dominguez, CNN
(CNN) -- Texas Roadhouse founder and CEO Kent Taylor died Thursday, according to a post on the restaurant chain's Facebook page. He was 65.
"Our community and the restaurant industry lost a legend and the Taylor family lost a wonderful son, father and grandad this week," said a joint statement from Taylor's family and Texas Roadhouse sent to CNN on Saturday.
The statement said Taylor died by suicide after a battle with Covid-19-related symptoms, including severe tinnitus, or ringing in the ear, and his suffering had increased in recent days.
Taylor had funded a clinical study to help members of the military suffering with tinnitus, the statement said.
"Kent leaves an unmatched legacy as a people-first leader, which is why he often said that Texas Roadhouse was a people company that just happened to serve steaks," the statement said.
"He changed the lives of hundreds of millions of employees and guests over the past 28 years."
Texas Roadhouse is based in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer tweeted Thursday that the city had "lost a much loved and one-of-a-kind citizen."
"Kent's kind and generous spirit was his constant driving force whether it was quietly helping a friend or building one of America's great companies in @texasroadhouse," Fisher wrote. "He was a maverick entrepreneur who embodied the values of never giving up and putting others first. My deepest condolences to Kent's family and many, many friends."
Taylor gave up his salary from March 2020 through January 2021 and donated the funds to assist frontline restaurant employees during the pandemic, CNN affiliate WAVE reported.
A company Facebook post Friday said: "We will miss you, Kent. Because of you and your dream of Texas Roadhouse, we get to say we (love) our jobs every day." The post used a heart emoji instead of the word love.
Taylor created the idea that would later become Texas Roadhouse on a cocktail napkin, the family's statement said.
Texas Roadhouse first opened in 1993, according to the company's website, and has more than 600 locations in the United States and 10 restaurants in other countries.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the year Texas Roadhouse opened. It was 1993.
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