Lights, camera: Bay Theater reopens

The Bay Theater in Morro Bay has reopened after two months of renovation.

A sewer line failure underneath the lobby floor in September was an opportunity for the one-screen theater to complete $175,000 worth of upgrades, including replacing the carpets, redecorating the lobby, expanding the bathrooms and converting to digital projection.

Quota International of Morro Bay has also donated devices worth more than $2,000 to the theater to aid the visually impaired.

More than 20 years ago, people called the Bay Theater “the pit,” according to longtime owner Mary Lou Jannopoulos. “It was falling apart, and your feet would stick to the floor.”

But Jannopoulos, who took over operation shortly before her husband’s death in 1992, put everything she had into years of renovations and now is proud of what she calls “a nice little boutique theater,” a clean, charming place with good popcorn and a devoted, discerning clientele.

Mary Lou and former husband Jim Jannopoulos acquired the Bay in 1984, at a time when the couple owned and operated most movie houses in San Luis Obispo County. The theater building was constructed in 1942 by the military to serve seamen based in Morro Bay.

Mary Lou Jannopoulos eventually decided to expose the original trussed roof, as well as install all new seats and install new decorative tiling in the entryway.

The Bay Theater is a family affair. Mary Lou’s son, Brian Jannopoulos, maintains the facility, and Brian’s wife, Denise, is an accountant who manages daily operations. Mary Lou’s grandchildren, Randy and Heather, are also on staff.

Mary Lou’s new husband, architect Don West, designed the renovations.

“I love this,” said Mary Lou Jannopoulos. “I don’t believe in retiring.”