The owner of several Twin Cities restaurants and his corporation have been accused of underpaying the state more than $180,000 in sales tax and income tax revenue over the past several years.
Daron E. Close, of White Bear Lake, and his DC Restaurants were charged Friday in Ramsey County District Court with six felony counts each in connection with failure to pay taxes.
The charges against Close and his business, whose restaurants have included an Acqua on the shorelines of White Bear Lake and Forest Lake and a Meet Market in each of those cities, specifically address roughly $13,000 in sales tax underpayments from 2015 to 2017. However, the criminal complaint also points out that state audits covering other time periods bring the overall total to more than $86,000 in sales tax shortfalls.
Also, a state audit of DC Restaurants covering 2012-15 revealed that Close underreported the business’ income and owed nearly $97,000 in taxes, the charges read.
Close told the Star Tribune on Monday that all of the sales tax underpayments, except the $13,000 covered in one audit, have been paid off, along with penalties.
He added that “as far as I know,” the income tax shortfall also has been satisfied.
Close, who was charged by summons, said he’s been “forthright and upfront with the whole process. … I’ve never contested anything in the past.”
He explained that the problems came while his restaurant business “grew so fast. The accounting was tough to keep up with. Now I don’t do that anymore, which is fortunate.”
A state Department of Revenue investigator interviewed Close in February about the audit that found the $13,000 in underpayments, and “he didn’t know why he underreported the amount of tax collected,” according to the charges.
Close also operates Mizu, a Japanese restaurant next to Acqua in White Bear Lake. His Pi Pizzeria in Forest Lake and The Grill at Forest Hills at the golf club closed recently, as did Acqua in Forest Lake and a Meet Market in Stillwater.
In an interview in 2013 with the Forest Lake Area Lowdown community newspaper, about the time Acqua in Forest Lake opened, Close said he got into the dining business as a teenager and worked in roughly 20 restaurants before graduating from college. He earned a degree in hotel, restaurant and tourism management at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.