Kent Taylor, the co-founder and CEO of Texas Roadhouse Inc., has died from suicide, his family said, after suffering unbearable COVID-19-related symptoms.
Taylors family told McClatchy News in a statement that the business executive experienced severe tinnitus and other symptoms.
Kent battled and fought hard like the former track champion that he was, but the suffering that greatly intensified in recent days became unbearable, his family said.
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, they added.
The restaurant chain, which operates over 500 dining establishments in 49 states, also confirmed Taylors recent death in Facebook post.
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 chain wrote in the post on Thursday.
The news comes almost a year after Taylor, who co-founded the chain that opened in 1993, made headlines for giving up his bonus and base salary to pay his chains workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The donation from Taylor’s base salary amounted to just under $525,000 and his bonus was $525,000 as well, a spokesperson for the company told The Hill at the time.
On a prorated basis, the forgone salary and bonus would be just under a $1 million donation to employees, the spokesperson said then.
Greg Moore, the lead director at the company, told the McClatchy News that the 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, he added.
The company’s board of directors said announced last week that President Jerry Morgan would assume the role of CEO of the company.
While you never expect the loss of such a visionary as Kent, our succession plan, which Kent led, gives us great confidence, Moore said in a news release announcing the move.
Jerrys 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, he added.