Don Guerra’s mission is to make bread that blurs borders
“Sometimes I’m like ‘Wow, I spawned this thing in my garage,’” Mr. Guerra said with a laugh. “Look how many interesting things came out of the garages: Steve Jobs, the Ramones. In other places – for example in Mexico – man you’re a legend if you can outfit your house and have a little storefront on the side. This person is truly respected.
In 2016, after eight years in the garage, Mr. Guerra opened his current location in a small 1960s mall. The staging area is almost exactly the same size as his old garage; the dimensions make him feel the most like himself, he said.
Mr Guerra and his wife separated three years ago, in part due to disagreements over his early hours and a grueling workload. (She still co-owns Barrio Bread and manages its human resources and finances.) This year, Mr. Guerra oversaw the opening of Barrio Charro, a daytime spot in Tucson that serves sandwiches and baked goods, a collaboration with the If Charro! catering group. And he launched Barrio Grains, a packaged line of whole grains and flour blends that go into Barrio’s breads, produced by Hayden flour mills of Queen Creek, Arizona.
Mr. Guerra also has a new obsession. He’s figuring out how to get a 50-pound bag of organic heritage wheat north across the border in Nogales, Arizona. He contacted small farmers in Sonora, including Jose Luis Lámbarri, a farmer near Ciudad Obregón, 400 miles south of Tucson. Mr. Lámbarri grows Yaqui-50, a soft wheat known for its sweet and nutty taste.
Despite countless bureaucratic hurdles, Mr. Guerra seemed full of energy, hopeful of getting his hands on it, grinding it in his table grinder, mixing it with his pasta.
“Cross the borders, give this grain to my people in the form of bread,” he said. “For me, it’s power.”