Kent Taylor, who died unexpectedly on Thursday, created Texas Roadhouse and turned it into one of the most successful casual-dining chains in the country.
Taylor was a maverick who did things his own way. In the process, he gave us some memorable comments—especially when he was talking about his decision to avoid third-party delivery that much of the industry embraced.
Here are a few Kent Taylor quotes we’ve gathered using the financial services site Sentieo and our own previous reporting.
“We encourage all our competitors to do as much delivery as they can so they can deliver lukewarm food to the people who order it. We’ll stick to our guns on this.” —Taylor, talking to investors in 2017 and explaining his aversion to third-party delivery—an aversion he held even during the pandemic.
“We love third-party delivery for competitors. That drives more to-go into our stores.” —Taylor, in 2019, not really changing his mind.
“As I’ve gone into a lot of our competitors’ restaurants, I’ve realized that we hire all the cool people and they probably don’t.” —Taylor in 2019, in response to a question on customer satisfaction.
“Somehow my early struggles, along with my many years of operating restaurants (some 15 years of running daily shifts), have helped provide me with a unique perspective. Perhaps a different perspective than that of a marketing or finance person that may be running a restaurant company (no offense, just sayin’). I try as much as possible to live in the mindset of our store Managing Partners.” —Taylor, in a letter to shareholders last May in the early days of the pandemic.
“A few weeks into March, when the ‘you-know-what’ hit the fan, we had two choices: (a) hunker down, lay people off, conserve cash and wait it out; or (b) deal with the reality of each day, pivot, experiment, learn and pivot again. We went with (b) and jumped in headfirst! We quickly learned from our individual operators, especially some of our crazy, out-of-the-box thinkers, like me, who were not afraid to push the boundaries and try new things.” —Taylor, from that same letter, which he ended by wishing a happy birthday to Willie Nelson.
“I can tell you that the new president of Texas Roadhouse will be paid one crisp, $100 bill next year, meaning me, for that role. So that might help a little bit.” —Taylor, in response to a question on corporate overhead costs.