Occupation: Owner of Bread of Heaven
Family: Married to Cristen Colquitt. Children are Michael, age 3; Raina, 18 months; and Bailey, 6 months.
The first time Michael Colquitt met his wife, he found himself in a bit of a quandary. “When I first met Cristen in college, I was gone on her. I told one of my new buddies how much I adored this fine woman I had met, and how it was love at first sight and how I was going to get her and marry her. I went on and on about her,” Colquitt says. “He asked me her name, and I told him. He said, ‘Hey, brotha, that’s my girlfriend.’ I was speechless.’”
Colquitt waited, and when the pair broke up, he made his move.
Colquitt grew up in Alcoa, graduated from Alcoa High School in 1996 and attended Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach and Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City before he graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with an education degree.
Colquitt then enlisted in the U.S. Army to pay off his college loans and started catering as a side business. “I was in four years and spent two years in South Korea. My job was a supply sergeant, and I cooked on the side. I did big weddings, barbecues and holidays,” he says. “I loved the attention, and people liked my food. I thought, ‘I’m good at this.’”
He got out of the service in June of 2005, came home to Alcoa where he and his aunt Lizzie Littlejohn opened Bread of Heaven restaurant in November of 2005 on Wright Road in Alcoa. That, he said, was the beginning of his education in the restaurant business.
“We opened up totally ignorant about the business. My aunt did cooking on side, but we had no idea what we were getting into,” he says. “We thought we were good cooks, but we didn’t know anything about overhead, food costs and insurance. It surprised us.”
When asked how he got through that time, Colquitt credited his family and his faith in God. “I’ve got family members who work hard every day, and they loaned me money. That was the main thing that got me over the hump. I was at the five-year mark before I could see the light of day and could relax and not stress out.”
Here is Michael Colquitt:
What is your favorite quote from television or a movie?
“Richard Pryor played the role of a flashy preacher named ‘Daddy Rich’ in the movie ‘Carwash.’ He said, ‘It is better to have money and not need it, than to need it and not have it.’”
What are you guilty of?
“I am guilty of not giving enough credit to people who help me make it, and this seems to be the perfect time to thank them, because they all read Blount Today. Thanks to my wife, Cristen; Big Herchell White; my mom, Gloria L. Colquitt; Joe N. Colquitt; Mamma Patricia Dean; Mike Howell; CBBC; the Rev. Willa Estell; Ralph Sudderth; Michelle Colquitt; Aunt Liz Lizzie Littlejohn; Renee Colquitt; Rose Ashford; all my customers, and last and most of all, I thank God.”
What is your favorite material possession?
“My bed. I love to lie in my bed and count sheep.”
What are you reading currently?
“‘Curious George goes to School.’ I have three little children.”
What are the top three things on your bucket list?
“Clean up my office, take a vacation, take lunch to the Knox Area Rescue Mission.”
What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
“Barbequologist. I am Michael ‘The Main Ingredient’ Colquitt.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
“In my army days, I used a lot of profanity, and it became a habit. Now my 3-year-old son repeats what daddy says, so I try very hard to use Sunday School words.”
What is your passion?
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“I’d like to have lunch with my wife. I never get to take her out to lunch. We haven’t had lunch in years.”
If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
“I would go back and follow Jesus around and see him perform some of his miracles.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“She is a very strong woman, and she told me to always lean and depend on God, and He will take care of me.”
Other than your parents, who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?
“I call him my godfather, Herchell White. He is one person who has always believed in and supported the Bread of Heaven dream since Day One.”
What’s the worst job you have ever had?
“While in college, I was a part-time security guard in a dangerous housing project where the crime rate was extremely high, and I only had a badge and a flashlight.”
What was your favorite Saturday morning cartoon and why?
“The Fat Albert Show…’Hey, Hey, Hey.’”
What irritates you?
“High gas and pork prices.”
What’s one place in Blount County everyone should visit?
“Bread of Heaven restaurant. It is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. It is barbecue and home cooking with an all-you-can-eat buffet. It is unique because one person does all the cooking.”
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself at 18?
“Man, join the military and retire when you are 38 years old.”
What is your greatest fear?
“I still can’t quite get the hang of…
“Younger guys calling me, ‘Sir.’”
If you could do one impulsive thing, what would it be?
“If I could, and if he really existed, I would hunt, kill and grill ‘Bigfoot.’”