by Sandra Lee Buxton
Standing with posture that only an individual with a military background can achieve, Tom Donahue reaches out to shake the hand of a guest. He remains engaged during the conversation which also emphasizes his expertise in the hospitality industry.
He is not greeting old friends but, is in fact making new ones, most of which will quickly move into the old friend category. Tom has a way of drawing people into a conversation resulting in the feeling that they are the most important person in the room.
Born in Massachusetts, he moved to Naples in 1975 attending Baron Collier High School. A highlight during that time was participation in the JROTC which promoted team work, self-discipline and service. After graduation he entered the U.S. Army, a natural fit for this gentleman. Tom enjoyed “service” and his military career was especially fulfilling.
When his responsibility to the Army and his country were complete, it provided time to ponder what the next move would be. The hospitality industry was a meaningful segue into the next chapter of his life.
Tom feels that he has the best job in the world. As General Manager of Shula’s Steak House and Food and Beverage Manager for the Hilton he is well known and respected in the Naples community. One of the benefits of working for Shula’s is the excitement of meeting high profile people, a learning opportunity in and of itself. Tom has always enjoyed collecting autographs and the number in his collection has grown by staggering numbers during this tenure. Related to this hobby and the prestigious role at Shula’s he has interfaced with people that most of us only read about. A graduate of the Leadership Collier program he enjoyed the company of individuals who shared his passion for service while learning of new opportunities to do so.
The amount of time and work that Tom puts into local charities reads like his personal version of the Social Register, the complete list would fill an entire page. He proudly serves on the Make-A-Wish President’s Council, the United Way Board and leads the charge during their annual Walk.
He values contributing to Hodges University on the American Military Veterans Education Fund as a cabinet member. A sponsor of the Spirit of ‘45 Breakfast he participated in the recent Freedom Flight to Washington D.C. with an assembly of Veterans. While this was personally enriching it also allowed him to be an emotional support to those Veterans who were still struggling with war related issues.
Although Tom is all about business he also loves to have fun and has an infectious laugh. He finds his yearly participation in the Earl Morrall Celebrity Golf tournament exhilarating. Hosted by the Hilton Hotel and Shula’s restaurant, the area is packed with legions of sports enthusiasts, putting anyone in the mood to party. Tom, thank you for your service to your country, and your continued service to the Naples Community. You make a difference.