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CEO gives up salary and donates $5 million to support employees through the pandemic

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The CEO of a US restaurant chain has donated his salary plus an additional $5 million (£4.04 million) to support his employees through the coronavirus pandemic.

Kent Taylor, 64, has given away his annual income and bonus, totalling more than $800,000 (£646,392) to an emergency fund called ‘Andy’s Outreach’, which he set up 18 years ago to help employees cover rent, mortgage payments and funeral expenses.

Mr Taylor said he noticed many of his workers looking to the fund for help, and that the money was quickly getting depleted, which prompted him to donate millions of his own.

His donations have enabled him to keep all his staff with full pay across his 600 restaurants, despite the business taking a huge hit earlier this year because of lockdown measures.

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The 64-year-old, who founded the popular steak house Texas Roadhouse, based in Louisville, Kentucky told People: “It’s how I was raised. 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.”

Texas Roadhouse CEO — who reportedly made $1.3 million in 2018 — will forgo his base salary and incentive bonus.
“The additional funds will be made available to assist front-line hourly restaurant employees,” the report states.

— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) March 26, 2020

Asked what made him open the emergency fund nearly two decades ago he said: “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.

“It would transition to where people gave part of their paycheck, whether 10 cents of $10, to help our people during times of need.”

At the beginning of lockdown he also bought latex gloves, masks and eyewear for all his workers to ensure they remain safe from the deadly virus.

Speaking to People he added: “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.”

Mr Kent said he remembers what it was like to struggle because in the early 90’s when he first started his business he was a single parent who had to rely on his own parents help for money and accommodation.

As such, it has touched him to feel the gratitude of his employees, hundreds of whom have sent him thank you letters.

He said: “When you’re down and out, that sticks in your head. 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.

“I want them to transfer the love we’re showing them to other people.”

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