APPLE VALLEY, MN – Longtime entrepreneur Dan Shimek died at age 65 earlier this year after a long battle with cancer. Shimek founded a number of businesses, including Outdoor GreatRoom in Eagan, Minn, and the Enjoy! restaurant in Apple Valley, Minn.
As reported in the SUNThisWeek Blog and a number of media outlets, Shimek was a business owner, philanthropist, and a true pioneer in his community. “His light will continue to burn brightly in our community,” said Apple Valley Mayor Mary Hamann-Roland.
According to SUNThisWeek, Shimek and his wife, Kay, opened Enjoy! restaurant in 2004. The Apple Valley district was envisioned as a thriving downtown area, but by 2008 it was filled with empty storefronts and undeveloped lots due to the recession. A savvy businessman, Shimek was able to beat the tide. Three years later, the restaurant’s future became brighter as Central Village rebounded.
Hamann-Roland described Shimek as an ethical businessman who treated his employees like family. Shimek’s generosity extended far beyond the restaurant. An advocate of public education, the Apple Valley resident generously contributed to Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan schools — the school district his own four children attended.
When a devastating tsunami hit Sri Lanka in 2004, Shimek helped fund reconstruction efforts — namely a school — in one of the island nation’s villages. A school named after Shimek stands as a lasting reminder of his passion for helping others. One year later Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and Shimek and his family again extended a helping hand.
His first venture in the hearth category was Heat-N-Glo, which he founded in Burnsville in 1975 with his brother, Ron Shimek, who died in 2002. Shimek stayed on as president after the company merged in 1996 with Heatilator to form Hearth and Home Technologies in Lakeville.
He retired in 2002, but that was short-lived. Within a year he founded Eagan-based Outdoor GreatRoom Company, which designs and manufactures upscale fire pits, furniture and kitchens for outdoor living spaces. Though Outdoor GreatRoom felt the weight of the recession, it continued to thrive with annual sales in the millions. Aiming to save money and bring business to Minnesota, Shimek moved the company’s engineering, production and manufacturing operation from overseas and Salt Lake City, Utah, to its headquarters in Eagan.
A year after opening Outdoor GreatRoom, Shimek opened Enjoy! and then Paradise Landing restaurant in Balsam Lake, Wis., and a winery called Chateau St. Croix in St. Croix Falls, Wis. “I wasn’t good at golf, and I enjoy business and being around good innovation,” Shimek said in a 2010 interview.
Shimek is survived by his wife, Kay, and children, Jessica Shimek, Danielle (Ricky) Dhaliwal, Kent Shimek, and Richelle Shimek.