Kent Taylor, the ‘maverick entrepreneur’ who founded Texas Roadhouse, has died at 65

Texas Roadhouse
  • Kent Taylor, who founded Texas Roadhouse in 1993, died Thursday at the age of 65.
  • Taylor was most recently the board chairman and the chief executive officer.
  • Louisville’s mayor remembered him as a ‘kind and generous spirit’ who put others first.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

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.

Taylor founded the Lone Star State-themed steakhouse – famous for its loyal fans, free peanuts, and unlimited rolls and butter – in 1993. In the decades since, he “dedicated himself to building it into a legendary experience for ‘Roadies’ and restaurant guests alike,” the restaurant’s lead director Greg Moore said in the statement.

“He was without a doubt, a people-first leader,” Moore said, noting that Taylor forfeited his compensation package amid the COVID-19 pandemic in support of his workers. “His entrepreneurial spirit will live on in the company he built, the projects he supported and the lives he touched.”

The company did not specify a cause of death.

Taylor was the visionary behind the company’s partner model and its mission of “Legendary Food and Legendary Service,” Jefferies analyst Andy Barish said in a note. The restaurant chain, which now has more than 600 locations across the country, went public in 2004. Since then, its “unending focus on delivering a quality experience with great value has made it one of the most consistent casual dining companies overall,” Barish said.

Texas Roadhouse lived up to the hype of being America’s favorite steakhouse chain, according to one Insider reporter who dubbed the restaurant the “clear winner” in a competition with Outback Steakhouse. According to Pitchbook, the restaurant was also named Employee’s Choice Best Places to Work by Glassdoor.

Throughout his career, Taylor received many accolades, including becoming a member of the Kentucky Business Hall of Fame and being named the 2014 Operator of the Year by Nation’s Restaurant News, Pitchbook said.

He earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of North Carolina, which he attended on a track scholarship. Before founding his restaurant, he worked at KFC, Bennigan’s, and Hooters of America, according to Pitchbook.

Taylor’s successor as CEO will be President Jerry Morgan, the company said, adding that Morgan will be key in helping the business move forward “after such a tragic loss.” Morgan has worked at Texas Roadhouse for 23 years.

Read more: 6 chains that are positioned to survive the restaurant apocalypse sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, according to experts and analysts

In a tweet, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Taylor was a “maverick entrepreneur who embodied the values of never giving up and putting others first.”

“Louisville lost a much loved and one-of-a-kind citizen with Kent Taylor’s passing today,” Fischer said. “Kent’s kind and generous spirit was his constant driving force whether it was quietly helping a friend or building one of America’s great companies.”

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell said Taylor didn’t fit the “mold of a big-time CEO.” He built his company taking bold risks and using creativity and grit, McConnell said. But most of all, he cared about his team.

“When the pandemic threw everything into uncertainty last year, there was no question what Kent would do,” McConnell said. “Like always, he put his people first. He dug deep into his own pockets and covered healthcare and bonuses for thousands all while keeping his stores open to make sure workers got paychecks when they needed them most. These were acts of extraordinary leadership that were all very ordinary for Kent.”

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McConnell planning an ‘escape hatch’ in case he leaves Senate before term expires, report says

Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).

When former President Donald Trump lost his reelection bid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky became the most powerful Republican in Washington DC.

With the upper chamber evenly split between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, 79-year-old McConnell, who was reelected to his seventh term last year, will most certainly fight hard to regain the majority in 2022.

However, McConnell, always a tactician, has created a list of successors in case he doesn’t serve out his full term, which will expire in January 2027, according to The Intercept.

Kentucky Republicans told The Intercept that McConnell’s political protégé, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who has received criticism for his handling of the Breonna Taylor case, is at the top of the list.

Other names on the list include former United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft and Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams.

Under current state law, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear would have the power to pick McConnell’s successor if he steps down from office, so McConnell is backing new legislation that would enable the state GOP to choose a replacement. 

Senate Bill 228, which The Intercept reported has been informally called the “Daniel Cameron Election Bill,” would strip the governor from independently picking a replacement and empower the executive committee of the same political party of the previously elected senator to put forward three potential replacements.

The governor would then have to appoint a successor from the party-endorsed list.

If the legislation passes, it would bar Beshear, who is opposed to the bill, from replacing McConnell with a Democratic successor.

The legislation also details when elections could proceed if there is a vacancy.

GOP state Sen. Tom Buford, a co-sponsor of the bill presented by state Senate President Robert Stivers, told The Intercept that changes in Senate appointments had been talked about for “several years.”

“It just seemed if we did have a change of venue of US Senate that it would be proper and appropriate the political party that held the office would be the political party that replaced it until the next election cycle, that being in this case Republican,” he said.

McConnell’s office confirmed with The Intercept that the senator was on board with the changes.

“Leader McConnell has discussed the legislation with Stivers and is fully supportive of the measure,” a spokesperson said.

Multiple sources informed The Intercept that McConnell was the catalyst for the new legislation, with “health concerns” and “the makeup of the upper chamber” as some of the given reasons.

However, several GOP legislators, who did not want to speak on record, told The Intercept that the changes were being pushed largely for McConnell to choose his successor, with one elected official calling the bill an “escape hatch” for the senator.

The bill would have to be approved by the Kentucky House and Senate, and the party holds veto-proof majorities in both chambers.

While McConnell has not publicly given any indications that he is stepping down, he is also entering uncharted territory among the Senate GOP caucus.

His hold on leadership remains strong, but he faces the looming presence of Trump, whom he strongly denounced for his role in the January 6 Capitol riot, despite voting to acquit the former president of “incitement of insurrection.”

Last month, Trump slammed McConnell as a “dour, sullen, unsmiling political hack” and said that Republicans “will not win again” if they continue to support him.

McConnell responded that he would “absolutely” support Trump if the former president was the 2024 GOP presidential nominee.

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GOP Sen. Rand Paul says that Biden’s push for a $15 minimum wage reflects a ‘hate’ for Black teenagers

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky).

  • Republican Senator Rand Paul said that President Biden’s push for a $15 minimum wage would hurt Black teenagers.
  • “‘Why does Joe Biden hate Black teenagers?’ should be the question,” Paul said.
  • The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky on Friday came out swinging against President Joe Biden, saying that the Democratic president’s push for a $15 minimum wage would hurt Black youth.

During an interview with Fox host Sean Hannity, Paul alleged that a minimum wage increase would put 4 million people out of work.

“The people who lose their jobs first when you hike up the minimum wage are Black teenagers,” Paul said. “So, you know, ‘Why does Joe Biden hate Black teenagers?’ should be the question. Why does Joe Biden want to destroy all of these jobs?”

He added: “Even the government says that nearly 4 million people will lose their jobs.”

According to a Congressional Budget Office report, there’s a two-thirds chance that raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2025 would cause zero job losses on the low end of estimates to 3.7 million job losses on the high end of estimates, with a median CBO estimate of 1.3 million job losses.

However, the CBO also estimates that a $15 minimum wage would increase pay for 17 million workers.

Read more: The ultimate guide to Biden’s White House staff

Paul cited the highest CBO job loss estimate in his interview with Hannity.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, but states and many localities can set higher minimum wages. Kentucky’s minimum wage sits at $7.25 an hour.

The federal minimum wage has been unchanged since July 2009.

Black communities have been hit harder than other demographic groups during the coronavirus pandemic. Government data last summer showed Black Americans were disproportionately affected by mass layoffs. Meanwhile, Gen Z has been the hardest hit in the labor market and are now on track to repeat millennials’ money problems, as Business Insider’s Hillary Hoffower reported in December.

Paul also blasted Biden for canceling the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a decision that leading Democrats have long sought, much to the consternation of Republicans, who point to job losses.

“It’s kind of a strange beginning to an administration,” Paul said. “You’re going to put your best foot forward and the first thing you say is, ‘This is how I’m going to kill jobs’ … ‘I’m going to kill thousands of jobs of the Keystone pipeline with ending it.'”

While in office, former President Donald Trump championed the US-Canada project, saying it would create 28,000 US jobs, a number that was disputed by The Washington Post in 2017. That same year, ABC News also noted that the majority of the jobs involving the pipeline would be temporary.

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A Kentucky state trooper has been reassigned after attending the Trump rally that turned into a deadly attack on the US Capitol with his family

capitol police riot
Pro-Trump protesters clash with police during the tally of electoral votes that that would certify Joe Biden as the winner of the U.S. presidential election outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC on Wednesday, January 6, 2021.

  • A Kentucky state trooper has been reassigned after attending the January 6 pro-Trump rally that turned into a deadly riot at the US Capitol.
  • The trooper attended the rally with his family but left before the riot began, a spokesperson said.
  • He’s among several law enforcement officers under scrutiny for their involvement in Wednesday’s events.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Kentucky state trooper has been reassigned after attending the January 6 pro-Trump rally in Washington, DC that turned into a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol.

The trooper attended the rally with his family and left before the rioting and attack on the Capitol began, a Kentucky State Police spokesperson told the Kentucky Herald-Leader. The spokesperson did not reveal the name of the trooper and said he was “temporarily reassigned” while the police force reviewed his conduct.

The riot began following a “Stop the Steal” rally, where President Donald Trump directed his supporters to fight for him and said Congress shouldn’t certify the electoral college votes in favor of President-elect Joe Biden, who won the 2020 presidential election. Trump has continued to deny the reality of his loss, for months calling the election “rigged,” although he conceded after the riot that a new administration would begin on January 20.

Wednesday’s attack left five people dead, including one member of the US Capitol Police.

“The horrific acts that took place last week on sacred national grounds are completely unacceptable,” Philip Burnett Jr., the acting Kentucky State Police commissioner, said in a statement. “KSP is reviewing the employee’s participation. It is the right thing to do to protect our nation, democracy, agency, and all KSP employees. This is the same review process our agency follows any time there is questionable activity involving any law enforcement personnel within our agency.”

The trooper is among several law enforcement officials reportedly involved in Wednesday’s events. A deputy sheriff in Franklin County, Kentucky, was also reassigned after participating in the rally. The New York Police Department said one of its members had a role and was under internal investigation.

Police departments in California, Texas, and Washington state are also among those investigating whether its members participated in the events.

Rep. Tim Ryan said Monday there were between 10 and 15 ongoing investigations into members of the Capitol Police over their conduct during the insurrection. Two have already been suspended, he said: One who took a selfie with an insurrectionist in a video that went viral during the event and another who gave a “tour” to the people who illegally entered the building. Ryan also said a third individual, who may have been a member of the Capitol Police or the National Guard, had been arrested.

The US Department of Justice said Tuesday that there were at least 160 ongoing federal investigations into people who participated in the riots, with more planned.

Expanded Coverage Module: capitol-siege-module

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