Source: ETEC | Release | May 29, 2020

Donna and Tom Sullivan were celebrated this morning on the eve of their retirement for their community service over the past 25-plus years with a Muddy Bagel Award, a unique way the East Tennessee Economic Council honored Hot Bagel Company, the organization’s caterer since 1995.

The award was presented during a virtual Zoom meeting of the organization’s Board of Directors. It is a spin-off of ETEC’s time-honored Muddy Boot Award which is given to those individuals who go above the call of duty to make the community a better place to live and work.

Donna Sullivan, nee Maxwell, with her husband Tom started the Hot Bagel Company in 1994. It closes tomorrow, May 30, without the large celebration they planned prior to the COVID-19 virus. However, they are planning to serve treats to celebrate from 9:00-1:30.

Tom Sullivan is the baker, up at impossibly early hours daily; and dreams up all sorts of delicious concoctions like a giant ‘Gator’ bagel on the Friday before a Tennessee vs. Florida game or a skeleton bagel on the Friday before Halloween. Donna is always out in the community; raising funds to fight Lupus, catering, and serving breakfast to rowers from all over the U.S. She sometimes seems like a whirling dervish, always on the go.

“I am probably the only person that can say that I’ve had the most perfect job and had a blast, every day,” said Donna.

Donna and Tom were engineers working on the reservation when they decided to start their restaurant adventure. Tom loves to bake pastries. He even went to France to learn his art.

“Hot Bagel has been ETEC’s caterer for so long I can’t remember who it was before, and at a price that hasn’t changed in 25 1/2 years,” said ETEC’s president Jim Campbell. “She likes what we do, and if we stray from her Dad, banker Don Maxwell’s Oak Ridge values, she lets us know.”

When the business deal to sell the company fell through, they decided to donate their equipment to the Pellissippi State Community College’s Culinary School. The Culinary Arts Program at Pellissippi State has agreed to provide food for the Butterflies for Hope bike ride post-event feast in 2021, an event organized by Hot Bagel for a cause near to the Sullivan’s heart, raising funds for the Lupus Foundation.

Donna says these last few weeks have been busy. They are shipping bagels all over the country. They, and their food, will be missed.

“It is appropriate to honor Donna and Tom by way of this one-of-a-kind Muddy Bagel Award,” said Campbell. “They’ve been with us in the room each Friday by way of their bagels. It’s always important to celebrate the people that go above and beyond to enrich their community.”

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