• About the Owners

    Close friends Daron Close, Nicole Close (Whetzel), and Chris Whalen were longtime students of the hospitality industry. They dedicated their careers to constant growth and learning in hopes of one day fulfilling the dream of opening their own restaurant. Their paths conveniently crossed at just the right moment and their dream become a reality when they opened their first Acqua Restaurant and Bar in 2009. In 2013, they partnered with JJ Maleitzke to open a second Acqua location at Forest Lake. Since 2013, the team now owns and operates 7 restaurants including two Acqua Restaurants, three Meet Markets, Pi Pizzeria and MIZU Japanese.

    Daron Close, Director of Operations, grew up locally in Roseville and received his degree in Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Since 1997, Daron has enjoyed working in over 30 restaurants while gaining valuable experience in the hospitality industry.

    Chris Whalen, Executive Chef, grew up Sioux Falls, SD and received his culinary degree from the Culinary Institute of America. He has worked in many kitchens including The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, the Inn of the Anisazi in Sante Fe, Chez Daniel, Fhima’s and Campiello in Uptown.