“If you build it, they will come” from the movie Field of Dreams became the mantra that created Pennington’s in Jewett. It all began in 2015 when Nashville music veteran Shawn Pennington and his long-time friend, Pete Koch from Scio helped organize a concert in Deersville for their 200th birthday.
A feature of that concert was a group called Trick Pony, who performed on a stage built outside the Deersville General Store. More than 2,000 people filled the street to watch that performance. It seemed to Shawn and Pete that the Ohio Valley was hungry for good country music…and the idea for Pennington’s began.
Shawn has a longtime connection to the Jewett-Scio area. While his family lived in Pittsburgh, as a child Shawn spent nearly every weekend and summer vacation with his grandparents, Hobart and Mary Stroud in Scio. So, it was natural for Shawn to feel that Scio was the place he called Home.
In the early 90s, Shawn traveled the world as a professional musician before moving to Nashville to become tour manager for the up-and-coming Sara Evans. He worked hard on promoting her career where she sold more than 2 million records and toured with greats like Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Reba McIntire.
Because of his success and the relationships he had built, a powerhouse management firm of Dale Morris & Associates asked him to join them. It was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. Shawn’s talents as musician/producer, tour and production manager, and eventually artist manager led him to play important roles in the careers of Big & Rich, John Rich, Gretchen Wilson, Cowboy Troy, and Randy Owen just to name a few.
So, when he got the idea for a country music restaurant in the Jewett-Scio area, he thought it would be a chance to bring some of those country music artists, as well as rock and comedy, that he knew to perform there. He felt people were eager for good music in that part of the country.
Shortly after he began thinking about the restaurant, his granddad, Hobe, called to tell him that granddad’s favorite place to eat was going up for sale in Jewett. Jo-Lin’s Restaurant was located in the old Kammeyer Opera House, a 110-year-old building with a lot of class and character.
Again, he called upon his old friend, Pete Koch to manage the restaurant as Shawn had no previous experience managing a restaurant. But it was a change that he thought would be fun and of benefit to the community.
Over the next few years, they redecorated the building, added a fantastic stage area with cool lighting, improved their product, and found a group of people that could carry out running the restaurant easily.
Now, the restaurant seats 170 people for dinner and a show. It’s a place where you can get up close and personal with the performers. If you’re down front, you may only be a few feet away. Even in the back, you’re only about fifty feet away. Not many places you can have this kind of experience.
Food is delicious as well. They have daily specials that give great variety to their basic menu. It includes wings, cod nuggets, appetizers, salads, sandwiches, soups, and pizza. They have a wide variety of beverages including soft drinks, beers, and wines. Children have their own special menu.
Every weekend since July 2021, they have had award-winning talent on stage. Past performers include Frankie Ballard, Little Texas, Pam Tillis, Neal McCoy, Deana Carter, Thompson Square, and Confederate Railroad just to name a few. There are special groups every month so check out their website to see who is performing. Get your tickets online by going to www.penningtonsjewett.com.
In 2016, Shawn opened Pennington Entertainment, a full-service artist development and management company. He started this Nashville enterprise with over twenty years of management for other companies under his belt. While music is his main focus, Shawn also has produced television programming for major networks.
Shawn still lives in Nashville but makes frequent weekend trips to Jewett. He’s trying something else new these days…he’s upgrading his pilot’s license. His passion for flying, which began as a ten-year-old, became strong again just a few years ago when Allen Jackson, the personal pilot for Kenny Chesney, invited him to the airport to hang out. There happened to be a flight school right next to Chesney’s hangar where the owner took Shawn up in a little Cessna for an hour flight.
When he returned from that flight, he had ten new voicemails and 48 new emails on his phone. He had completely forgotten about his Blackberry for an entire hour! Flying became therapy for him. The next month he took a Boeing 737 introductory course and has been obsessed with aviation ever since.
Life keeps Shawn very busy between his restaurant, aviation, and artist management. Because of his Nashville experience, he wants Pennington’s to provide an experience to the client from the minute they enter the parking lot until they leave the performance. Shawn remarked, “I want Jewett to be a destination town.”