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Roberts and Miller met 10 years ago, when both were involved in the Kansas City skateboarding scene. A couple of months into their friendship, Miller started dating Roberts' younger sister, Amanda, and the couple married in late July this year.
"We've kind of had that brother relationship for a decade," Roberts says.
Roberts had worked in bars and restaurants, and he and Miller talked about co-owning an establishment someday. Then the Screenland opportunity came up.
"He was in it, but really it was convincing my sister to let him do it," Roberts says. "It's a big risk of starting your own business, and we're both 26, 27. It's been easy because it's like working with your brother — a brother you don't fight with. We also have a fight club downstairs. That's why we don't argue. We beat the hell out of each other once a week."
Neither man had worked in a movie theater, but Roberts spent a decade making his own short horror movies (Method and The Cramps), hard-to-stomach films in the tradition of David Lynch and David Cronenberg.
"I love movies," Roberts says. "If I can't make movies professionally, I can show movies professionally."
On this August Monday, the day after Breaking Bad, Miller does some accounting as Roberts updates Armour's Facebook page. Miller handles the business side at Armour, while Roberts focuses on creative ventures. Miller is mahogany-tan from his Cancún honeymoon, and he has already been up for hours. He works a 6 a.m. construction shift, then heads to Screenland for an afternoon and an evening behind the bar. By next year, he hopes to narrow things down to just the Screenland full time.
"Working for somebody else has never really appealed to me," says Miller, who wears a white V-neck T-shirt, khaki shorts and flip-flops. "Now everything's coming together."
"Keep in mind that he had to pay for a wedding and buy a house," Roberts says. "That's really why he has two jobs. I didn't get married and buy a house and a car in 12 months."
"Two of the things came before the business," Miller says. "But then the house came after, but that was necessary. I didn't want to live here, although sometimes I feel like I do."
Their work the past 10 months has yielded visible results. "If you saw a picture of what it looked like in here until now," Roberts says, "it's so different."
They've replaced the giant chalkboard behind the bar with a pair of LED screens to display their menu and prices. Roberts points to the bottles behind the bar. "When we took over the bar, I think all of those were mixers," he says. "There were, like, 10 bottles of real booze."
"That fridge didn't work at all," Miller says.
"Bottled water and bottles of domestic beer — Bud Light, Miller Lite — and Boddingtons, Boulevard and Stella," Roberts says of the previous offerings. "No drafts."
The cooler is now stocked with 90 varieties of craft beer.
The men have hung paintings of iconic movie characters and scenes: Darth Vader, a Simpsons-ized Nicolas Cage from Raising Arizona, the Reservoir Dogs cast, the DeLorean from Back to the Future. A Gremlins doll lurks above the bar. A block of classic arcade games — Tetris, Ms. Pac-Man — bleeps in the lobby. New recliners and chairs have been installed in the theater.