Jason Pennick was eating dinner with his wife at Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar & Grill in Fall River recently when he glanced at one of the televisions and saw something that nearly made him choke on his burger.
“It was good food, nice atmosphere, but then you look on the screen, and right there you see the news playing and it’s about [Remy’s] son,” said Pennick, 40. “Everybody stops eating.”
Jared Remy, the 34-year-old son of former Red Sox second baseman and current broadcaster Jerry Remy, had just been arrested and charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel.
After absorbing the shock, Pennick and his fellow patrons resumed their meals, but he wonders now whether people will keep eating at the four Remy restaurants, where the baseball icon is a part owner, as the murder case unfolds.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some kind of backlash on his father, since it was such a serious crime,” Pennick said. “People are going to question him on how he raised his son and all that stuff.”
‘The contagion factor is small, and I don’t think it’s the restaurant business that would feel an impact.’
But an industry specialist said that because Jerry Remy is such a beloved figure, Jared Remy’s case is not likely to cripple his father’s business ventures, which also include a website that sells hats, T-shirts, and even pet products emblazoned with Remy’s nickname, RemDawg.
On top of his own businesses, Jerry Remy is a popular pitchman, having appeared in commercials for Ace Ticket, Sovereign Bank, Lexus of Watertown, and Eastern Clothing, among others.
Instead, the case could ding his opportunities for new business partnerships.
“Jared Remy brings a negative aura not only to himself but also to everyone around him,” said Stephen A. Greyser, a sports marketing expert at Harvard Business School. “The contagion factor is small, and I don’t think it’s the restaurant business that would feel an impact. But might new companies be holding off on running to Jerry Remy for endorsement opportunities? Maybe.”
Jerry Remy has kept out of public view since his son’s arrest, saying in brief statements that he and his wife are grief-stricken by the death of Martel, the mother of his 4-year-old granddaughter.
He has taken the rest of the season off from the broadcast booth, and issued a statement to the Globe Friday in which he said, “The last thing we are focused on is business.”
Three of Remy’s business partners did not respond to interview requests.
Remy grew up in Somerset and was a solid player during 10 big-league seasons, the last seven in Boston. Since then, the affable Remy, now 60, has become a bigger star than he was as a player. For 25 years, he has served as the color commentator for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network and in local polls consistently ranks among fans’ favorite television sports personalities.
Remy’s 2004 debut book, “Watching Baseball: Discovering the Game Within the Game,” topped the Globe’s local best-seller list, and he has gone on to write five children’s books featuring Wally the Green Monster, the Red Sox mascot.
After opening a hot dog stand on Yawkey Way in 2006, Remy launched his first sports bar, at Logan Airport, in 2008. He has added locations on Boylston Street near Fenway Park, in Boston’s Seaport District, and in Fall River.
Remy’s successful battle against lung cancer in 2009 and his openness about seeking treatment for depression have further endeared him to fans.
“The thing that’s going to save him is that he’s been the RemDawg so damn long,” said Jonathan Cleaves, a 36-year-old Red Sox fan from Worcester. “He’s so well established.”
If Remy does lose any customers, Pennick will not be among them. Despite the unusual experience at the Fall River sports bar in August, he will not be deterred from dining at Jerry Remy’s again soon.
“I’ll go back,” Pennick said. “The food is too good.”