CHESTER, Va. -- Thom and Melissa Pakurar received their license to brew beer at Dancing Kilt Brewery off Route 10 in Chester, Virginia in February 2020.
Less than a month later, the COVID-19 pandemic closed the fledgling brewery.
"We prayed about it and we're like, we keep going, we don't hear stop. So there's something for us to do with his dream," Melissa said about their decision to move forward despite uncertain times.
First offering curbside cans and later opening just four tables to in-person service, Dancing Kilt began to grow its following through word-of-mouth recommendations.
"I had to turn people away," Thom said. "Then they would line up at the door before opening time to make sure they got a table."
The Pakurar's sudsy dream began in the 1980s when Thom returned from a European ski trip and could not find the beer he loved on his trip.
While working in construction and IT during the day, at home at night, Thom brewed the beer he longed to drink.
He gave samples to friends as gifts.
Those friends encouraged Thom to brew more beer.
"After the 12th person, you know, you have to start thinking, maybe there's something to this," he said.
That confidence propelled Thom to open Dancing Kilt Brewery.
"We're close to Fort Lee, so there's a lot of retired military," he said. "They've been stationed overseas, and when they come over and try the beers, it brings back memories, fun times they had living abroad."
The brewery has a family atmosphere because while Thom is brewing the back, his daughter is running the front of the house.
"It's a little weird because people ask me what my favorite is and I tell them the first 17 cause I have no idea," Tori Pakurar, 19, said.
While she's too young to drink beer, she is old enough to appreciate working with her dad.
"[We're] honestly a lot alike, from what I'm told," she said. "We kind of have a rhythm, so he takes care of the stuff in the back and I take care of the stuff upfront."
For Melissa Pakurar, the family vibes extend to the community that has embraced and supported the Dancing Kilt.
"I'm in awe of how supportive our community has been, in all honesty," she said.
And the Pakurars hope to give something back to the community that has given them a chance to live out their dream.
"What's important to us is old fashion values, community, relationships," Melissa said. If you notice, there's no TV's in our brewery because we want people to talk with one another, have conversations."
The Dancing Kilt is located at 12912 Old Stage Road in Chester and is open:
Tuesday and Wednesday 2 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Thursday thru Saturday 2 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Sunday and Monday - CLOSED
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