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El Guero Canelo founder Daniel Contreras back to business as usual after health scare

"I'm a miracle, miracle, miracle!"
Posted at 4:52 PM, Jun 07, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — He's the man who popularized the Sonoran hot dog in Tucson—and he's now saying 'thank you' to the people of the city for all their recent support.

Daniel Contreras—Mr. El Guero Canelo himself—is back working after a major health scare and a 40-day stay in the hospital.

Below is a snapshot of Contreras saying hello from a rehabilitation facility—shared to social media by his family after he spent more than a month in intensive care at Banner - UMC.

And beside it is Contreras 10 weeks later, working the kitchens again as I met up with him at the Oracle Road location of El Guero Canelo.

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Still photo of a video shared by the Contreras family in March (left) shows Daniel Contreras in physical therapy. (Right) Pat Parris joins Daniel Contreras in the El Guero Canelo kitchen for a Sonoran dog.

"I'm a miracle, miracle, miracle," Contreras beams as we talk.

He's now back making his famous El Guero Canelo Sonoran hot dogs after a 6-foot fall in his driveway left him with eight broken ribs and a broken clavicle.

But it was complications from those injuries that caused a life-threatening lung issue. For 34 days, with his wife and three kids at his side, Contreras says he battled.

He credits the doctors and staff at Banner: "So they saved my life."

For most of his stay in the hospital, he was unaware of the outpouring of support from the Tucson community.

But the man who popularized the Sonoran hot dog in Tucson in 1993, Contreras tells me the prayers from his friends and loyal customers were answered.

"Thank you Tucson," Contreras says. "I mean, right now I feel almost 100 percent."

While he's back working three to four hours a day at his two Tucson restaurants, he has decided to slow down.

Daniel Contreras is back in the El Guero Canelo kitchen after a recent health scare.
Daniel Contreras is back in the El Guero Canelo kitchen after a recent health scare.

"God is trying to tell me, ''hey, you better just take it easy man'."

Contreras is 63 and now has a plan for retirement. He says wants to oversee the construction of a new building at his third location on South 12th Avenue.

By December, he will hand over the three restaurants to his kids, who have already stepped in to help the last few months.

"I don't have to be in the front of stage anymore. They can run the business," he tells me. "They already proved it to me."

Contreras admits it will be hard to step back, but he and his wife are ready: They plan to travel around Arizona and he thanks those who he says helped him with his miraculous recovery.