Kent Taylor, the 65-year-old founder and CEO of the Texas Roadhouse casual steakhouse chain, died by suicide Thursday after battling ongoing “long COVID” symptoms that included unbearable ringing in his ears, according to a joint statement provided to CNN by the company and Taylor’s family. Taylor’s suffering caused by severe tinnitus “had increased in recent days,” CNN reported.
“Our community and the restaurant industry lost a legend and the Taylor family lost a wonderful son, father and grandad this week,” the statement continued. Taylor, who reportedly financed a clinical study to help military members suffering from tinnitus after suffering from it himself, “often said that Texas Roadhouse was a people company that just happened to serve steaks,” the statement said, adding that Taylor had “changed the lives of hundreds of millions of employees and guests,” over the past three decades.
“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 said.
“He made sure to roll out the red carpet for truckers during the shut down last year when we had a hard time finding a hot meal while trying to keep America rolling,” said one of the hundreds of comments left beneath a post memorializing Taylor on the official Texas Roadhouse Facebook page. “Nothing but respect for him....RIP Sir!!!”