If you spend any time on the southside of Tucson, you’ll know about a special place where people come together.

La Estrella Bakery has been a heartbeat of the area for decades and generations, bringing people together with food.

“So we’re the second generation,” explained the current owner, Isabel Montano. “My parents are the founders of a bakery. My dad’s retired, but kind of helping out and my mom is still here. She’s still working.”

Antonio and Marta Franco opened their bakery in 1986. Now, their daughter Isabel is in charge of bringing these incredible tastes and smells to life.

But long before she took on the title, she was on the job, growing up in the family business with her siblings.

“When they first opened up, we sold $35 on the first day” she remembered. “There was a dirt parking lot. My dad put up a sign with paint that just said ‘open.’ No signage, of course. It was just the family, my mom, my dad and kids. So we were young.”

The hustle and hard work, never stopped. Isabel and her family have kneaded life into this bakery.

“Well, it’s a lot of work,” Isabel said. “We actually are working more now than we ever did – 14 hours plus! But you know, I think it’s in our blood. We’re always working and it gives us a little adrenaline. But what really inspires us is the positive feedback from the community.”

While they have a full staff, the family legacy has continued with Isabel’s kids too.

“They currently do work here,” she said. “They help out. We start them out like my parents started us out. It’s mandatory that you work in the family business. And I think those values are priceless when they get older.”

Their dedication and commitment has paid off.

“25 years after we opened here,” Isabel said, talking about the location on 12th, “we were able to open at the Mercado. And then 11 years after that we opened our third location.

That third location, southwest of Speedway and Interstate 10, holds a special meaning for their family.

“That’s where my dad originally started as a teenager as an apprentice with my uncle. He had a real bakery there, and that’s actually where all the Mexican bakeries in town all started. And he was such a sharer, he liked to share his passion for baking, and so it opened up opportunities for everyone in Tucson. So that’s why we want to keep up with that legacy and kind of spread it out.”

Now, not only are they running three locations, you can find their classic and delicious pastries in Safeway, Fry’s, the casinos, resorts and some local restaurants.

But it’s not just the success that keeps them going.

“You know we bake every day,” explained Isabel. “But as you can see, people from the community come in and they gather and they kind of talk a little bit. It’s a place of gathering and and communicating with the community. And here you’ll get something fresh every day. But also, we hope that you get the service that feels like when you walk into a home. That’s our goal.”

It’s a thriving Tucson gem, that you won’t find anywhere else.

“That’s what we want to do, keep everything in Tucson,” Isabel said. “Because it’s such an important city for us. It opened our doors for so many things, the family, the growth, support, and so we want to keep it here.”