Restoration of the Pix marquee was a big job.

Owners of the former Pix Theater building, Adam and Karlyn Armbruster, love the marquee and knew from the start of their adventure with the building that they would restore it. After months of planning and work, they celebrated by turning the marquee lights on over the holidays.

“We love the marquee and wanted to see it lit up,” said Karlyn. “I’ve wanted to see it lit up since I was a kid,” said Adam.

The Pix building will be home to a micro-brewery and coffee shop — already dubbed Sleepy Eye Brewing Company and Sleepy Eye Coffee Company. Renovating an old building for a new use is a complicated process, with not much to see in the early months. Karlyn said having the restored marquee ready created just right kick off to the project. “We’re excited to have something for the community to see!”

“Many hours of head-scratching, problem solving, and physical work went into the marquee,” said Adam. “Judd Walter worked with us every step of the way.”

The marquee needed work from top to bottom and all around. Adam and Karlyn reeled off a list of repairs: rotten wood on the underside was removed and replaced, the structure was reinforced, and it was re-roofed (as was the entire building). The underside of the marquee was sheeted with polished stainless steel, for a mirror-like finish — be sure to look up when you walk beneath it!

The underside also features a custom-designed lighting pattern with 200 LED light bulbs.

Up above, the individual letters for the word, PIX, on each side of the marquee, were stripped and repainted; neon lights were repaired or replaced, and the back lighting for the white space was replaced. A new polycarbonate covering replaced the old cracked and broken glass.

Planning for the marquee restoration began last spring, with work starting in early fall. Adam and Judd finished installing the underside light bulbs on Dec. 23. The letters spelling out “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year” went up during the day on Christmas Eve. Adam said the decision to turn on the lights was a spontaneous reaction to completing the work.

Adam and Karlyn said they were pleased to have all the work on the marquee done by local area contractors. The same will be true on the interior projects such as brickwork, flooring and carpentry.

Their goal is to make the Pix a unique and welcoming place that features some of the architecture of the building. “We want it to be a gathering place for families and people of all ages,” said Karlyn. “If anyone has pictures of the theater, inside or out, we’d love to see them,” she added.

Some initial framing work has begun inside as the Armbrusters work through the approval process with Brown-Nicollet Environmental Health. The next few months they’ll be busy working through the planning and approval process, along with some early construction.

Adam said they are making use of some EDA programs for their project and appreciate that support.

For those waiting for their first beer or cup of coffee, the Armbrusters ask for patience.

“We hope in a few months, we’ll have a better idea of when we’ll be ready to open,” said Karlyn.

For now, the curious can follow the project on their new Facebook page — The Pix.