Kent Taylor, the founder and CEO of Texas Roadhouse, known for his deep care for workers and entrepreneurial spirit, died Thursday at age 65, the company said.

By Dustin Vogtand Shellie Sylvestri

Texas Roadhouse, Inc., a Louisville-based restaurant chain, has announced Thursday that its founder and Chief Executive Officer, Kent Taylor, has died.

Taylor reportedly committed suicide.

“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,” Travis Doster of Texas Roadhouse revealed in a statement.

Doster said Taylor was unlike any other company head he had ever seen.

“He had shorts, sandals and a tee-shirt on and of course smiling, going a mile a minute,” Doster said. “People were just attracted to him for his energy and passion.”

Taylor, a Louisville native and graduate of Ballard High School, founded Texas Roadhouse back in 1993. He held various positions throughout the company, including Chairman of the Board and CEO, according to a news release.

Early last year, Taylor agreed to give up his salary from March through January 2021, with the funds going to help assist frontline restaurant employees during the pandemic.

Texas Roadhouse, a steakhouse and casual dining restaurant chain with operations in Louisville, holds over 630 locations in 49 states nationwide.

“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. During the pandemic, he gave up his entire compensation package to help support his frontline workers,” Greg Moore, Lead Director on Texas Roadhouse’s board of directors 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.”

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer tweeted on Taylor’s passing Thursday night, saying the city lost a “maverick entrepreneur who embodied the values of never giving up and putting others first.”

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

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