So many people think that if they had more money, they’d be more generous — but some of the most generous people are those who don’t have much to their name.
The people who become wealthy after a period of struggle often remember where they came from and are more willing to help others going through what they’ve gone through.
That seems to be true of Kent Taylor, the CEO of Texas Roadhouse. While he’s the head of a business that now boasts 600 restaurants and 75,000 employees, times weren’t easy when he was just starting out as a single father of two.
“When you’re down and out, that sticks in your head,” he told People. “A lot of people think when you make it later in life it leaves, but it stays in your brain. Later in life, you want to give back in the same way.”
This has led him to have a keen interest in promoting the well-being of his employees, even though there are a lot of them. In a recent letter, Taylor wrote about the chain’s success — both over the years and in its ability to adapt and overcome during the current climate.
“As everyone’s world has obviously changed, so has ours,” he wrote, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. “I still remember the early days of Texas Roadhouse back in the mid-1990’s, when three of our first five stores failed. Survival mode was where I lived for quite a few years.
“Well, damn, if I didn’t find myself right back there again. Five restaurants have become 600 and 400 employees have become 75,000+. Back then in my mid-30’s, our Roadies were close to my age, and I thought of our company as a people company that happened to serve steaks. We were a family.
“Today, I still view us as a people company that serves steaks, however the stakes (no pun intended) and our family are obviously quite larger.”
Taylor wrote about how out-of-the-box thinkers were able to come up with some ideas on how to continue to operate during the pandemic, including offering meals to-go as well as steaks that could be cooked at home.
“While many cautioned against some of these ideas, guess what?” he continued. “We tried. We failed. We tried some more. And, we succeeded a lot. We also learned there is a difference in playing to win and playing not to lose. I am proud to say that our operators and Support Center teams played to win!!”
The care he has for his employees is clear in several ways.
First, Taylor wrote about how the company quickly ordered gloves, masks and eyewear for all employees and began mandatory temperature and symptom checks.
Second, he decided to forgo $800,000 — his annual salary and bonus — to help out the restaurant’s workers. So far, no one has been laid off or had his or her pay reduced, which is impressive given how many other restaurants are suffering.
Third, he has set up, maintained and recently added $5 million to Andy’s Outreach, an emergency fund for his employees. The fund, named after Texas Roadhouse mascot Andy Armadillo, helps them out with rent, utilities, funeral costs and other unexpected or overwhelming expenses.
“It’s how I was raised,” the CEO told People. “I did what I felt was right. This is that kind of time where you have to persist and think differently and take care of those that are with you and lift everyone’s spirits and march forward.”
“We were doing that to take care of our people that might have a loved one die that needed money for a funeral or an operation,” Taylor said of Andy’s Outreach. “It would transition to where people gave part of their paycheck, whether 10 cents of $10, to help our people during times of need.”
“I’m 64 years old and I call people under 55 kids. So I have 70,000 kids, and you want to take care of them. I relate it to my own personal family and I want to take care of my family, is how I look at it.”
“I want them to transfer the love we’re showing them to other people.”
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