Knaus Berry Farm will reopen for its 64th season on Tuesday, October 27.
The Homestead farm and its bakery have a passionate fanbase, and thousands flock to the property on opening day to get the first cinnamon rolls of the season. Lines form well before the bakery opens at 8:30 a.m., and those who make the pilgrimage are willing to wait for hours to snag an order fresh from the oven.
The pandemic puts a new twist on the ritual, of course. The farm stand will operate under strict CDC and Miami-Dade guidelines, says Thomas Blocher, head of operations at Knaus. "We're going to wear masks and maintain social distancing," he promises.
"We thought about online ordering or some sort of delivery system," Blocher elaborates. "We even tried to figure out a system where people would wait in their cars."
In the end, however, the team decided that the old reliable wait-in-line method is the most democratic — as long as customers social-distance. "We're asking people to be six feet apart. We've been through the pandemic for six months now, and I'm hoping people are respectful of the rules." (He did suggest a novel way to beat Florida's heat and sudden rain showers while ensuring social distancing: Carry an umbrella. "If everyone had an umbrella, that would be automatic social-distancing," he points out.)
There are some other changes this year, including a concise menu that will speed the purchasing process. Cinnamon rolls, cheese rolls, and herb rolls will be available, but Blocher says the pie selection might not be as varied and he's thinking of not baking loaf bread this year.
Blocher said that he may also limit the number of cinnamon rolls per customer, in order to move the lines more quickly and allow the ovens to keep pace with demand.
Fruit shakes will be available at the adjacent shake shack and, beginning in November, fresh produce will be abundant.
Blocher says he's still considering whether to open the U-Pick strawberry fields when the season starts in December.
As always, Knaus accepts cash only and is closed on Sundays as well as on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.
Knaus Berry Farm was founded in 1956 as a roadside stand where Ray and Russell Knaus sold berries. The brothers expanded their inventory to include pies, breads, and other baked goods after a fruit broker told Ray's wife, Barbara, that her cookies were good enough to sell. The farm is now run by Ray and Barbara's children and their families.
If you plan to visit Knaus on opening day, be prepared to wait. Don't forget your mask or your cash, and consider bringing something to read.
And maybe an umbrella, too.
Knaus Berry Farm. 15980 SW 248th St., Homestead; 305-247-0668; knausberryfarm.com. Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Shake stand closes 15 minutes earlier than the farm. Opens October 27 for the 2020-2021 season.