Kent Taylor, the founder and CEO of Texas Roadhouse died on Thursday. He was 65 years old.
Texas Roadhouse founder took his own life
Taylor committed suicide after a struggle with post-COVID-19 symptoms, including serious tinnitus, according to his family in a statement released by the company. Tinnitus is a condition that causes a ringing in the ears.
According to CNBC News, the family said Kent Taylor took his own life this week after battling with post-COVID-19 symptoms. The Texas Roadhouse founder fought and battled hard like the former track champion that he was. However, in recent days, his sufferings greatly intensified and became unbearable.
Taylor's family said he recently promised to fund clinical research to help service personnel who suffer from tinnitus. "Kent, we'll miss you. We get to say we love our work every day because of you and your Texas Roadhouse dream," the company posted on Facebook on Friday. Following Taylor's death, the Louisville-based restaurant company announced that President Jerry Morgan would be elected CEO.
According to the group, Morgan has been with Texas Roadhouse for 23 years and has more than 35 years of restaurant management experience with Texas Roadhouse, Bennigan's, and Burger King. Morgan began his Texas Roadhouse career in 1997 as the Managing Partner of the company's first Texas site. In 2001, he received the Company's highest honor, Managing Partner of the Year, and was subsequently promoted to Market Partner. In 2015, he was promoted to Regional Market Partner, and in 2020, he was appointed President, as per Heavy.
Texas Roadhouse founder remembered for caring for his employees
His hopes for a salad business in Florida faded away. The same can be said for a seafood idea that never got off the ground. After 80 other investors turned him down, he eventually convinced three Kentucky doctors to invest in Texas Roadhouse, but three of his first five restaurants failed, causing him to close them.
Taylor once said, "I think you have a stronger, more open mind when you fail." He got there eventually, and then some.
Taylor, 65, established his casual dining chain into a giant with more than 600 restaurants in 49 states and seven countries worth more than $6 billion before committing suicide on Thursday. He was afflicted by post-COVID 19 symptoms his family said were unbearable.
Taylor, a graduate of Louisville's Ballard High School who began his career busing tables at Captain Quarters, created a personal fortune of more than $600 million, with approximately half of it in company shares. He cashed in shares worth more than $300 million over the last 15 years, including $6.8 million just three days before his death.
Kent Taylor earned a track scholarship from the University of North Carolina. He allegedly designed the Texas Roadhouse idea on a cocktail napkin, according to the company. On February 17, 1993, he opened the first Texas Roadhouse in Clarksville, Indiana, at the Green Tree Mall.
According to a December profile in Business First, he owned restaurants for Bennigan's in the 1980s and KFC in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he raised two daughters on his own. However, innovations he implemented at KFC locations, such as hot wings, just got him in trouble, USA Today reported.
Years later, Taylor revealed that he preferred to employ people who had been into trouble with other businesses because they were a bit of an entrepreneur. Taylor, who disliked working with others, wanted to continue raising money for one of his restaurant concepts.
He lived in Colorado and served in nightclubs and restaurants, and he moved to Louisville in 1990 with hopes to open a cowboy-themed restaurant in Colorado or Texas. He began both and worked as executive chef at Buckhead before selling it to concentrate on Texas Roadhouse.