ST. JOSEPH — Milk & Honey Ciders is building a pavilion and stage that is intended to improve guest experiences during concerts and other events hosted at the St. Joseph business.
The new area will include an approximately 5,400-square-foot open-air pavilion and a stage, with terraced seating in between. Events in this new area could host around 300 people, co-owner Peter Gillitzer said.
The patio and taproom get pretty busy when Milk & Honey hosts music or other events, Gillitzer said. 
“We just wanted to kind of enhance the guests’ experience and keep it outdoor-oriented,” he said. “I think that’s … one of the reasons they enjoy this place is just the rural setting, overlooking the Jacobs Prairie and near St. John’s and Avon Hills. So we wanted to keep that feeling going.”
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Milk & Honey has hosted about 10 musical acts in the summer, mixing local and regional talent of various genres for shows in an outdoor area in front of the taproom. But this area wasn’t set up well for listening enjoyment, Gillitzer said. The new area, to the north of the parking lot, will be a little more like an amphitheater in terms of acoustics. 
The additional space will also help Milk & Honey host weddings and private parties while still staying open for customers in the taproom.
“People come to rely upon our sort of schedule, and (if) they come all the way out here and we’re closed on a Saturday for a wedding, there’s obviously some frustration,” Gillitzer said. “Just fixing some issues — giving everyone some more room and better experience.”
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Construction began in November, and between finishing the structures, seating and landscaping, the pavilion and stage should be ready sometime around June, Gillitzer said.
Gillitzer said Milk & Honey made steps to move forward with this project in 2019 and planned to break ground in spring of 2020, but uncertainty for businesses caused by the pandemic delayed that. However, two good seasons (assisted by positive weather and an already established outdoor area for customers) made them feel confident moving forward, he said.
Sarah Kocher is the business reporter for the St. Cloud Times. Reach her at 320-255-8799 or Follow her on Twitter @SarahAKocher.
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