Taylor’s family and the restaurant chain told The Hill and other news outlets that he “took his own life this week” after “a battle with post-COVID related symptoms, including severe tinnitus,” referring to COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus.
“Kent battled and fought hard like the former track champion that he was, but the suffering that greatly intensified in recent days became unbearable,” the statement reads. “But in true Kent fashion, he always found a silver lining to help others. Most recently, he committed to fund a clinical study to help members of the military who also suffer with tinnitus,” they added, referring to a symptom of buzzing or ringing in the ears.
The firm confirmed his death on social media last week.
“We will miss you, Kent. Because of you and your dream of Texas Roadhouse, we get to say we [love] our jobs every day,” Texas Roadhouse said.
The company said Taylor gave away his entire compensation package to support employees during the pandemic.
“This selfless act was no surprise to anyone who knew Kent and his strong belief in servant leadership,” Greg Moore, lead director, said in the company’s statement. “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.”
Taylor opened the first Texas Roadhouse restaurant in 1993 in Clarksville, Indiana, coming up with the idea on a cocktail napkin. It currently operates 610 restaurants in 49 states and 10 other countries. Texas Roadhouse is based in Taylor’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
Taylor, who died Thursday, is survived by his parents, Powell and Marilyn Taylor; three children, and five grandchildren. Texas Roadhouse spokesman Travis Doster said a small private service is planned this week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.