The CEO of Texas Roadhouse, who was hailed a hero for his incredible selflessness and generosity during the pandemic, has taken his own life.
Here's the full story...
The devastating news comes after he did something incredible for his staff during the pandemic.
People have been left heartbroken...
My heart is so heavy. Kent Taylor the best Founder/CEO has passed. A generous man w/a heart of gold who truly lead a people-first work culture & changed countless people's lives for the better. Forever grateful to have been able to work for him. pic.twitter.com/7FCkuzYKPI— 𝙹𝚞𝚜𝚝 𝙰𝙺 ✨ (@KnittelFiddle) March 19, 2021
Saddened to hear Texas Roadhouse founder Kent Taylor took his life after suffering through persisting after-effects of COVID-19. I remember he gave up his salary during the early part of the pandemic to protect employee compensation. Please remember the gravity of this pandemic.— Corey Dean Stone 📸 (@coreydeanstone) March 22, 2021
It was a rough day yesterday. My Dad called and I learned his best friend passed away. Kent Taylor of Texas Roadhouse became a household name but we knew and loved him for being a good friend, life of the party, and a giving person to so many. RIP Kent Taylor. We ❤️ you. pic.twitter.com/Yaoi8wSFi8— P Hagan (@PaigeHagan) March 19, 2021
Louisville lost a much loved and one-of-a-kind citizen with Kent Taylor’s passing today. 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. 1/2— Mayor Greg Fischer (@louisvillemayor) March 19, 2021
I am deeply sadden to hear of the passing of Kent Taylor, founder of Texas Roadhouse. I still have the replica napkin of his dream of the first Texas Roadhouse. He gave up his compensation for his employees during C-19. Our city has lost a great one.— Shannon Stiglitz (@sprattstiglitz) March 19, 2021
RIP Kent Taylor! He was an Entrepreneur Icon in this city & across this country. He was definitely someone I looked up to & always paid attention on how he grew his brands. Prayers go out to the Taylor Family 🙏🏼— Joey Wagner (@JoeyJWagner) March 19, 2021
Wow. Heartbroken to hear of the passing of @texasroadhouse CEO Kent Taylor. I spent 4 years in various roles at Texas Roadhouse. Thank you, Kent for creating such an amazing place to work. During the pandemic, he gave up his entire salary to support his employees. pic.twitter.com/x6s3FnryY4— Ashley M. Cole (@AshleyMColeNews) March 19, 2021
My heart goes out for Kent Taylor family. I truly can say he built Texas Roadhouse as one of the best restaurants I’ve ever had the privilege to work for. Gone but never forgotten 💔— AJ™ (@JackBoy2k13) March 20, 2021
Rest In Peace to Kent Taylor... the founder and CEO of the best job I’ve EVER had. Texas Roadhouse forever 😔❤️❤️ @texasroadhouse— Daniela Campos (@danielaaacampos) March 19, 2021
R.I.P. Kent Taylor much love and thank you for letting me work for your beautiful company— Berry (@BD_Josh) March 18, 2021
At the start of the pandemic, Taylor immediately jumped to action to protect both the lives and the livelihoods of his employees.
via: Texas RoadhouseFirst, he bought latex gloves, masks, and eyewear for the workers in all his 600 restaurants, and he also got to work creating a stimulus package specifically for the Texas Roadhouse family.
"It’s how I was raised. I did what I felt was right."
via: FacebookTaylor, sixty-four, told PEOPLE: "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."
But then, the CEO took things one step further.
via: FacebookWhen he was forced to close his restaurants, he knew that he'd be leaving thousands of employees without work and, ultimately, without a secure income.
So, he decided to give a little something back.
via: FacebookAmazingly, the CEO donated the entirety of his yearly salary and his bonus to all of his employees.
As you can imagine, these donations totaled to a substantial sum of money...
And, on top of this donation...
A single Texas Roadhouse employee is yet to be laid off or made redundant - Taylor kept them all on the books.
"We are blessed to have his leadership."
Kent Taylor at @texasroadhouse - doing the right thing. Hope many leaders do the same. https://t.co/KC1Z5hhTqA https://t.co/Qi3KwNxEuR— Michael A. Roberto (@Michael A. Roberto)1585577095.0
And he didn't stop there.
Of the fund's origins, Taylor explained:
via: Facebook"We were doing that to take care of our people that might have a loved one die that needed money for a funeral or an operation. It would transition to where people gave part of their paycheck, whether ten cents or ten dollars, to help our people during times of need."
Taylor's charitable move earned him significant praise online.
@BFLouisville Someone who cares about his people! Mr. Wayne Kent Taylor I applaud you Sir!!!! https://t.co/MP5dWw1zu4— Tommie Girl (@Tommie Girl)1585253178.0
He earned the respect of people from all over the globe.
The C.E.O and founder of my work, Kent Taylor, gave up a year salary to make sure we still got paid something durin… https://t.co/KtrKmOdM2X— Lilian Paige☯️ (@Lilian Paige☯️)1585363962.0
But sadly, after contacting COVID, he suffered from severe side effects...
Taylor suffered from tinnitus, a loud ringing in the ears, which his family says became unbearable just before he took his own life.
Tinnitus can become extremely loud and uncomfortable for those experiencing it.
His family said, "Kent battled and fought hard," but ultimately the suffering became too great."
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said...
"He was a maverick entrepreneur who embodied the values of never giving up and putting others first."
Kent was sixty-five.
Rest in peace.