After coming down with a mild case of Covid-19 in November, W. Kent Taylor found himself tormented by tinnitus, a ringing in the ears. It persisted and grew so distracting that the founder and chief executive of the restaurant chain Texas Roadhouse Inc. had trouble reading or concentrating.
Mr. Taylor told one friend he hadn’t been able to sleep more than two hours a night for months.
In early March, he met friends at his home in Naples, Fla., and led them on a yacht cruise in the Bahamas. Some of those friends thought he was finally getting better. Then his tinnitus “came screaming back in his head” last week, said Steve Ortiz, a longtime friend and former colleague.
On Thursday, March 18, Mr. Taylor died by suicide in his hometown of Louisville, Ky. He was 65 years old and had overcome early flops to build a successful chain of more than 600 casual-dining restaurants, most of which evoke traditional roadside eateries with steaks, music and free peanuts.
Friends said that as far as they knew, Mr. Taylor had no history of depression. “Quite the opposite,” said Mark J. Fischer, a friend since childhood. “He was so used to being positive and feeling good.”