• Elizabeth Kirkhorn

Brewing Originality

With Justin Garner, director of food and beverage

Justin Garner, director of food and beverage, lives to discover the next best concept, especially when it comes to a craft brewer or vintner, and the magic that happens when vision meets collaboration.

When it comes to unique storytelling, Justin finds that inspiration continues to evolve throughout his career.

Early on, Justin worked with Interstate Hotels in South Carolina where his eyes were opened to a whole new industry. “It was there that I discovered really good wine and the difference between craft beer and mass-produced beer,” he says. A certified sommelier, Justin helped open the first gastropub in 2010 while in the Carolinas. “This was a new term and there weren’t a lot of these pubs. I was surrounded by passionate people who were really excited about offering a new type of dining.”

Later, his work took him to Hilton in Austin, Texas where he served as director of food and beverage and helped develop three original restaurant concepts.

Today at Hilton Orlando, Justin is busy sparking new ideas about identity—defining flavors and ingredients— while pushing the innovation card at Hilton. He’s building interesting local partnerships with many brewers across the state. In fact, through his partnership with the Crooked Can Brewing Company in downtown Winter Garden, Florida, Hilton now offers its own private-label beer.

“We wanted something with wide appeal that was more accessible than an IPA so we chose a pilsner-style ale. This is the only place you can find it and it’s called Waterproof Lager,” Justin says.

It’s those ideas—those sparks of stories—that still inspire him. “When I look back, it’s those distilled moments, maybe talking to a brewer or in a Napa vineyard, that drive my inspiration. I am about honoring a commitment to new ideas, teamwork and innovation.”

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