Historic Franklin Cider Mill adapts to COVID-19 pandemic

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Haley Robins

The Franklin Cider Mill has been a part of Bloomfield Hills’ history since construction in 1837.

For Metro-Detroit families, the Franklin Cider Mill is a long-standing fall tradition that COVID can’t take away.

Melanee Radner has been the co-owner of the Franklin Cider Mill for the past two years, but it has been in her family for 60 years.

“It’s been way busier this year,” Radner said. “I think it definitely has to do with the pandemic. People are looking for things to do outside and be safe, and they feel comfortable coming here. They’re able to be outside with their friends, social distance, and they feel like they’re at a safe place.”

With the pandemic and busier crowds, the Franklin Cider Mill management has very strict policies to adhere to CDC guidelines. 

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Customers line up to order cider and donuts and are spaced out by the markers on the ground to keep guests distanced.

“Normally, our cider mill is open to the public so everyone can come in and see the cider press and everything,” Radner said. “This year we are not open fully, but we are operating fully, our inside is just completely closed, unfortunately.” 

Although the inside of the mill is closed, guests can still enjoy the award-winning products. The Detroit Metro Times named the Franklin Cider Mill the best cider mill of 2020.

“This year, we’ve partnered with GrubHub and have an online order pick up, where you can order through our website and come to our outdoor patio area to pick up your order from there,” Radner said. “You can also cross the bridge from our downstairs parking lot to our outdoor sales area. We have plexiglass everywhere, hand sanitizing stations everywhere and masks are required around the entire cider mill.”

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The Franklin Cider Mill sells products other than cider and donuts, like different meats, cheeses, butters, preserves, jams, jellies and baked goods.

Keeping safety at the forefront of operations

Not only is the Franklin Cider Mill doing its part to keep guests safe, but there are also procedures to keep employees healthy.

“We have one area where every employee checks in to do a daily temperature check and answer some screening questions before they can come in,” Radner said. “We also require COVID testing from every employee prior to starting to work here.”

Julie Goldman has worked at the Franklin Cider Mill for the past two seasons, but has been coming to the mill for 35 years.

“We have been unbelievably busy, especially on the weekends,” Goldman said. “We’ve had record days even with COVID.” 

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Signage around the cider mill encourages masks and social distancing.

Things have definitely changed at the cider mill to enforce safety, but that has not stopped guests from getting their cider mill fix, Goldman said. 

“We used to have vendors on the weekends, like we would sell roasted corn, hot dogs and sometimes have face painters, but none of that is allowed this year because we would never be able to social distance,” Goldman said. “This year on the side of the bridge where the parking lot is, we put out standing tables and benches so people can hang out, but you’re not allowed to take your mask off once you’re across the bridge.” 

Radner and Goldman have been friends for 35 years and agree that the combination of the cider, donuts, staff and atmosphere make the Franklin Cider Mill a place for tradition in the Metro-Detroit area.

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Social distancing is strictly enforced around the cider mill up until the parking lot, where guests can spread out once they cross the bridge.

A Michigan happy place, regardless of circumstances

“Even prior to COVID(-19), people just like coming here because it’s easy, it’s relaxing, it’s inviting,” Radner said. “Yeah, the food is great obviously, but it’s just a great place for people to be together and hang out, even in these times. It’s [a] happy place for a lot of people.”

Hannah Schreiber is one of those people, and has been going to the Franklin Cider Mill for the past 13 years.

“I keep going back [to Franklin Cider Mill] year after year, because I love the cozy environment and especially the cider donuts,” Schreiber said.

The Franklin Cider Mill season runs the Saturday before Labor Day through the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

“I don’t think the situation of the world will stop people from showing up to the cider mill,” Schreiber said. “I feel like people are more cautious when coming, but still go for a fun and safe environment to spend time with their family and friends and they can do that here.”

Haley Robins

Guests walk across this bridge from the parking lot to enter the mill, where masks must be worn at all times.

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