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DL Travel Travel owner receives top honors

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DL Travel Travel owner receives top honors
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Local businesses Travel Travel and Magnum Belize Tours, housed together in Detroit Lakes' Washington Square Mall, got some great news recently when they learned that their owner, Joseph "Pep" Simek had been inducted into the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame.


Pep and his brother, Ron Simek, were both inducted into the Hall of Fame due to their success in establishing and developing several businesses in the Medford, Wis., area where the brothers still make their home.

The business the two established together, the Tombstone Tap, would be the inspiration for the name of Pep's budding frozen pizza business, Tombstone Pizza.

Pep and his late wife, Frances Simek, together developed the pizza recipe that would form the foundation of what became one of the most recognized franchise brand names in America today.

Though he sold Tombstone Pizza and its brand name to Kraft Foods in 1986, Simek eventually returned to his roots, starting a gourmet pizza business known as Pep's Pizza that continues today.

In 1985 -- shortly before he sold Tombstone to Kraft -- Simek met Jack Chivers, owner of Chivers Realty in Detroit Lakes. Chivers was also the owner and founder of Magnum Americas Hunting & Fishing Tours.

A division of that company, Magnum Belize, acquired a property in that country that would later be developed into the successful Caribbean resort, Captain Morgan's Retreat.

Chivers later sold his interest in Captain Morgan's, Travel Travel and Magnum Belize to Simek.

Though he retains sole ownership in both Magnum Belize and Travel Travel, Simek later brought in his nephew, Ernie Olmstead, as a partner at Captain Morgan's.

"Ernie and his wife have 50 percent, and I have 50 percent," Simek said.

Though he doesn't live in the area, Simek keeps tabs on his Detroit Lakes enterprises through regular visits back to the community.

"I try to get back here every 3 to 4 months," Simek said during a recent stop at the Travel Travel office.

Though he is in his early 80s, Simek said he has no current plans to sell the local travel companies, or his interest in Captain Morgan's.

"I still go to the office every day," he said. "I like what I do."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 15 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as obituaries. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454