A popular Mexican bakery chain has chosen Tucson as its springboard to enter the U.S. market.

Suspiros Pastelerías, based in Hermosillo, Sonora, has 263 shops in 22 states throughout Mexico.

By early next year, the gourmet cake and pie shop will have two in Tucson and one in Nogales, Ariz. The U.S. stores will be known as Suspiros Cakes.

Suspiros — which means sighs in Spanish — chose Tucson because many residents are already familiar with the brand.

“We felt comfortable here and welcomed by the city,” said Juan Pablo Briseño Valenzuela, director of U.S. operations. “We’re a family business and want to be international, so we’re here to grow in the U.S.”

Founded in 2004 by Ana Lucia Fonseca de Esparza, Suspiros uses her family recipes for the decadent cakes and pies that taste as if they were made at home, Briseño said. The treats are sweetened with cane sugar as well as fruit.

Its specialty pie is made with a cracker crust of nuts, egg whites and cookies.

Suspiros plans to hire about 15 people in the Arizona stores.

There are more than 40 varieties of cakes and pies and they will be introduced in phases each month, Briseño said.

The company plans to start with retail sales before expanding into custom cakes for events such as weddings and quinceañeras.

“We want to test the American market,” Briseño said. “All will depend on the first few months of operations and if takes off, next year we’ll expand to Phoenix.”

The main store, at 5327 and 5329 S. 12th Ave., will be both a shop and the commercial bakery for all three Arizona stores. The second store will be on Ajo Way and 12th Avenue, and the Nogales store will be in the Lomalinda Mall, on Mariposa Road.

Because the company was considering making its U.S. debut in Phoenix, getting Suspiros to choose Tucson was a priority for Juan Francisco Padres, the city’s economic development specialist.

“We’ve been working on this for months,” he said. “I told them Tucson is a great platform to introduce the brand and a natural market to test if you will have product acceptance in the U.S.”

Being closer to the base in Hermosillo and the availability of space helped cinch the deal.

“It is very important for us because it means Sonora is looking to Tucson as an opportunity for U.S. entry,” Padres said. “We are one region and part of their market already, so brands like Suspiros see Tucson as a gateway.”

Bringing more investment from Mexico to the Tucson market is a goal for Jose Dabdoub, of Dabdoub Commercial, who represented Suspiros. He is exploring more opportunities to bring companies into the U.S. from Sonora, both in Nogales and Tucson.

Visit suspirospastelerias.com to see the bakery’s products.

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at grico@tucson.com