Among Beer Run’s many virtues, it has always had a knack for turning service industry ugly ducklings into swans. The restaurant has never hesitated to hire servers short on experience and, through time and training, help them transform into models of the industry.
In his early days bartending at Beer Run, Steve Yang would experiment with peach schnapps laced shooters reminiscent of a fraternity party while shyly avoiding interaction with customers. Now, he is nationally recognized for his cocktails and, at Tavola’s Cicchetti Bar, eagerly seeks out engagement with guests. For the first six months of Noel Scott’s tenure at Beer Run, regulars were unsure whether he had the capacity for speech. With the skills and confidence that training and experience bring, Scott went on to become a stellar bartender at The Alley Light, before moving on to big city service in Washington D.C.
And then there is Justin Castelhano. Far from a novice when he joined the Beer Run team in 2015, Castelhano still came in like a deer in the headlights. No small task, becoming the beer buyer for Charlottesville’s ultimate beer bar must be daunting. Plus, he had big shoes to fill. Jay Campbell had held the position for almost all of Beer Run’s existence, and had become a beloved figure.
Campbell’s shadow was so long that, in Castelhano’s early days, he sometimes defaulted to mimicking his predecessor, adopting Campbell’s practices, and even citing him when making recommendations. Before long, though, Castelhano grew into his own, developing and honing his own skills. Fast forward five years, and Castelhano is a big part of what makes Beer Run such a pleasant place to be.
Oddly, Castelhano’s greatest asset is one he shares with Campbell, but it is not one you can fake. You either have it or you don’t. Like his predecessor, Castelhano genuinely enjoys making others happy. Whether patiently meeting a newcomer’s request for a beer similar to Coors Light, showing guests to their table, or discussing with regulars the relative virtues of local hazy IPAs, Castelhano takes joy from pleasing others. It is part of who he is.
Tomorrow, October 2, 2020, is the last day of Castelhano’s tenure at Beer Run. By his guests and his employer, he will be missed.