Barrio Bread owner and baker Don Guerra is planning on opening his retail bakery in Broadway Village at 18 S. Eastbourne Ave. by the end of November, pending final inspection and approval from the city.
"I'm most excited to be here facing more of the public," Guerra said. "I'm really excited to have people see part of the process."
Guerra's community-supported baker model has been going strong since 2009, but his recent $100,000 USDA grant and ongoing GoFundMe campaign helped make the retail bakery a reality.
The new Polin bread oven, flown in from Verona, Italy with a father-and-son team flown in from Ohio for proper installation, greets customers as soon as they step inside. The alluring aroma of levain is within arm's reach, making resistance futile.
Barrio Bread's new brick-and-mortar bakery is a far cry from his current setup in his garage.
"The production I do now by myself is a max of 900 loaves a week," Guerra said. "The new facility will increase production by two or three times."
Increase in efficiency is a welcome addition to Guerra's process. He has certainly been putting in the hours.
"About 80 hours a week is what it takes me to run business," Guerra said. "This might take me initially a little bit more than that, but I hope to stay 80 to 90 hours a week until I can stabilize the business."
Guerra isn't operating as a one-man team, however. Two apprentices are coming on board to lend a hand.
"They're both professionals," Guerra said. "I'm really looking forward to having some committed people that have been interested in my business for a long time now that, have had the interest to come in and learn about the bread and make it their lifestyle. Make it really something that can add to their lives, not just a job and a skill to learn, and education. It's also practicing life skills with the bread because it the learning process really consumes you."
Increased production means Barrio Bread will now be able to supply bread to the Coronet, Agustin Kitchen, DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails, Cup Cafe, Maynards Market & Kitchen, R Bar, Good Oak Bar, and North Italia.
Although the distribution is increasing, Guerra plans on refining his craft rather than experimenting with crazy flavors.
"The experimentation will come mostly from the new grain that will come from BKW Farms in Marana," Guerra said. "I've been working closely with them for several years to help reinvigorate the local grain economy. They're now growing 60 acres of organic grains that I use in my business"
Barrio Bread will be open 9 a.m. until the afternoon or until the bread runs out, Guerra said. He will also continue with the Tucson CSA but, most of the pick-up will transition to Barrio Bread's new space. Pre-order will no longer be available, as bread will be available at a first-come first-serve basis. However, Guerra is still focused on the community.
"This is a starting point for me as far as what's possible for our community for making food products with locally grown grains," Guerra said. "My hopes are ten years down the road it would be standard to make pancakes in your house with white Sonora wheat. To me, what's the next thing is people understanding that you can substitute, that flour can come from your backyard."
For more information, visit barriobread.com.
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran's Fats. Although he...