Now-closed Marana bar featured on Bar Rescue

Jamie Donnelly
4 Min Read



Tucson restaurants and chefs have been no strangers to the big screen.

“The Kelly Clarkson Show,” “Battle of the Decades,” “Man v. Food,” “Top Chef” and “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” are just a few of the big-time shows that have featured Tucson’s best.

Last fall, another classic food show made its way to Southern Arizona, giving a local sports bar the makeover of a lifetime.

On Sunday, a new episode of “Bar Rescue” featured High Five Grille, a Marana sports bar that needed some help leveling up. In typical “Bar Rescue” episodes, host Jon Taffer brings along a couple friends to transform struggling bars into profitable businesses.

Cathy Whaley bought the bar, located at 3682 W. Orange Grove Road, in 2019. Prior to opening High Five Grille, Whaley told Taffer that she had never run a bar or restaurant before.

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High Five Grille had a few key issues. Their big walk-in fridge had been down for a month, the business was losing around $8,000 monthly and Whaley couldn’t pay rent because she had to pay employees’ salaries, according to the episode. This left Whaley $350,000 in debt, she told Taffer.

The employees said the biggest problem in the bar was the fact that it didn’t stand out from other restaurants in town. The bar was on the smaller side and included orange and yellow walls, with Taffer describing it as a “cafeteria.”

Before Taffer made his big entrance, he sent in a few familiar faces to do some research. The stars of ESPN’s Spears and Ali, Justin Spears (go Justin!!) and Ali Farhang scoped out the bar before Taffer and his two friends, mixologist expert Mia Mastroianni and culinary expert Jennifer Murphy, burst into the restaurant and shut it down.

Through some tough love, Taffer helped the workers and Whaley make some vast improvements. Mastroianni worked with the bartenders, showing them how to create more flavorful cocktails to add to the menu, including a passionfruit and tequila drink.

In the back of the restaurant, Murphy worked with the chef, showing him how to make steak taco salads and green chile burgers.

To finish the grand makeover, Taffer renovated the bar, painting the walls a dark blue and rust, and he added Southern Arizona décor like Mexican ceramic tiles and cacti art. He also upgraded the bar and tables and fixed the broken walk-in fridge.

To mark the beginning of a new chapter, Taffer renamed the restaurant to Cinco Cantina and welcomed in a long line of customers. On opening night, Taffer described the reinvented restaurant as a “completely new business” and a “total improvement.”

Sadly, Cinco Cantina closed for business in January, their Facebook page said.

Watch the new “Bar Rescue” episode on the Paramount Network website.

We’re all celebrating the arrival of Spring the only way we know how – alcohol! The tree blossoms and sunny weather call for springy cocktails that help set the mood and Buzz60’s Yair Ben-Dor has rounded up his top selections.



Jamie Donnelly is the food writer for #ThisIsTucson. Contact her via e-mail at [email protected] 



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Jamie Donnelly , tucson.com
tucson.com – Vivrr Local Results in news/local of type article , 2024-03-28 16:00:00
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