Texas Roadhouse CEO and co-founder Kent Taylor was called a servant leader and a visionary. 

Taylor took a small Texas roadhouse, and turned it into a national chain of over 500 restaurants in 49 states, including in The Colony, McKinney, and Prosper. His servant’s heart led him to donate his salary and bonus (a total of about a $1 million) last year so that his chain workers, “Roadies,” could be paid during the COVID-19 pandemic, which decimated the restaurant and entertainment industries. 

The Texas Roadhouse CEO also suffered from severe post COVID-19 symptoms, and he isn’t the only one. According to the Mayo Clinic, older people and people with medical conditions are more likely to experience lingering COVID-19 symptoms. They’re known as “long haulers” and experience a myriad of problems, including fast or pounding heartbeat, joint and muscle pain, persistent cough, and shortness of breath. It can also damage several organs and cause blood clots to form, as well as fatigue and mood problems, the Mayo Clinic reported. 

In Taylor’s case, his family says that he was experiencing tinnitus and could no longer live with the pain. It leads to several debilitating issues such as an intense ringing in the ears. COVID-19 also causes and intensifies tinnitus, the New York Daily News pointed out in an Oct. 2020 report

Taylor committed suicide on Thursday, according to a family statement. He was 65.  

“Kent battled and fought hard like the former track champion that he was,” the Taylor family said in a statement to McClatchy News. “But the suffering that greatly intensified in recent days became unbearable.” 

Sadly, there are quite a few people suffering from the effects of COVID-19, just like Taylor. About 40 percent of Americans — and 75 percent of young adults — are struggling with mental health or drug-related problems during the pandemic. It’s possibly also causing an increase in suicides, which has been increasing since the late ’90s, The Washington Post reported on Nov. 23, 2020. “Even as suicide rates have fallen globally, they have climbed every year in the United States since 1999, increasing 35 percent in the past two decades,” Post reporter William Wan wrote. 

In the early ’90s, Taylor opened the first Texas Roadhouse in Clarksville, Indiana. He was living in Colorado at the time, and found a doctor to invest in his new venture. Despite the “Texas” in the name, he opened his next location in Gainesville, Florida; followed by Cincinnati, Ohio; Clearwater, Florida and Saratosa, Florida. Along the way, he picked up a chef from Kentucky to perfect their steak cuts. The concept eventually became legendary in Texas.

The company, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, announced Taylor’s death on Facebook, writing that his pain from post-COVID-19 symptoms had been increasing.

Taylor’s family also released a statement, adding: “We are saddened by the decision Kent felt he needed to make and want to emphasize more than ever the importance of reaching out for help if you or someone you love is suffering.”

For more information or if you need help, the Texas Health and Human Services has listed several helpful numbers and websites on its website:

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline

  • Call: 800-273-8255 (800-273-TALK)
  • Chat online: suicidepreventionlifeline.org
  • Support for people who are deaf and hard of hearing: 800-799-4889
  • La Red Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio: 888-628-9454

Support for Veterans and Their Loved Ones

The Veterans Crisis Line connects veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring, confidential support 24/7

Crisis Text Line

Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7 crisis support and trains volunteers to support people in crisis.

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning young people under 25.

Texas Suicide Prevention

Texas Suicide Prevention provides free resources, educational information, phone apps and training.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

AFSP has local chapters throughout the state that can deliver education programs to schools, workplaces and communities.

National Alliance on Mental Illness

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Local NAMI chapters can deliver education programs to communities.

Help Outside the United States

To find a suicide helpline outside the United States, visit:

Christian McPhate

Christian has been working as a freelance journalist in North Texas for more than a decade. His stories have appeared in the Dallas Observer, the Houston Press, and Rolling Stone magazine. He covers a...