Larry and Lucie Mann of Hilton Head Island were looking for new work after their chosen professions of home building and design ground to a halt during the recession.
When they learned friends who owned Park Plaza Cinemas might sell, they jumped at the chance.
The Manns, who bought the almost 30-year-old movie theater on Hilton Head Island's south end in July, now are tapping their creative energies to give it a "significant facelift" that will include a cafe and bar/lounge.
"We thought this would be a great opportunity to do something else until things turn around," said Larry Mann, 57, owner of Southern Heritage Homes.
In addition to the usual theater fare of popcorn, candy and soda, they plan to serve gourmet pizza, coffee and ice cream from the cafe and beer and wine from the lounge.
They want to create a place where theatergoers can come early, stay late and enjoy "more than just a movie," said Lucie Mann, 51, owner of Le Chateau Designs.
They also plan to set up covered tables and chairs outside and sell ice cream to non-theatergoers through an exterior window.
They started renovations about two weeks ago and hope to be done by Thanksgiving.
The Manns say they are not movie buffs, but they plan to start a club for people who are. They also are considering showing football games and opera on the big screen and hosting live music outside.
The Manns continue to renovate homes, even though demand for new homes has slowed, and they would like to see their old business return. Until then, they sound content with their new challenge.
"In the meantime, here's something else we can do," Larry Mann said.