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Kent Taylor (1955–2021), Texas Roadhouse founder and CEO

by Linnea Crowther

Kent Taylor was the founder and CEO of Texas Roadhouse, the popular steakhouse chain known for free buckets of peanuts at each table.

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Creating a nationwide favorite

Taylor was managing a Hooters restaurant when he began dreaming of starting a restaurant chain – but his original vision was of a Colorado-themed restaurant. He tinkered with his concept and in 1993 opened the first Texas Roadhouse in Clarksville, Indiana. The chain’s expansion was slow at first; three of its first five locations failed. But by the late 1990s, Texas Roadhouse took off, and Taylor eventually built it into a chain of more than 600 locations across 49 states. He remained actively involved in the business until his death, making decisions on the menu and choosing songs for the restaurants’ jukeboxes. In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic severely affected restaurants, Taylor gave up his salary to help the chain’s frontline restaurant workers.

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Tributes to Kent Taylor

Full obituary: Courier Journal

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