Reo Varnado, owner of Portland Reo’s Ribs barbecue and Snoop Dogg’s uncle, dies

Reo Varnado, owner of Portland barbecue restaurant Reo’s Ribs, died Friday night, his family announced.

Varnado, who was Snoop Dogg’s uncle and was known for accompanying the rapper on stage and on television, died at 10:30 p.m. Friday, his brother, Ricky Varnado, said in a public Facebook post Saturday morning. His cause of death is unknown.

Family and friends took to social media to mourn Varnado’s death over the weekend, posting photos from local events and videos of his performances over the years.

In addition to cooking Southern-style barbecue, Varnado was also a singer, performing with his gospel group The Beyonds. He was also featured on the Doggy Style All Stars’ 2002 song “Just Get Carried Away”, produced and released by Snoop Dogg.

Snoop Dogg posted several posts about his uncle on Instagram over the weekend, sharing a video from the rib restaurant in Varnado that appeared on the rapper’s short-lived “Dogg After Dark” series on MTV. He also shared a photo with Varnado and Martha Stewart, taken when the two appeared on the VH1 show “Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party,” and a 2015 video from a Hollywood concert where Varnado was called on stage to sing a song that Snoop Dogg said the two wrote together.

” We will miss you. Thank you for loving me and the whole world, you were a blessing. Snoop Dogg wrote on Saturday.

Reo’s Ribs opened in 1999 along the Tualatin Valley Highway outside of Portland, where Varnado’s Mississippi-style barbecue was mentioned by Gourmet magazine, which said its ribs were “weighted down with meat which pulls bone into thick ribbons”.

The business, a partnership between Varnado and Myra Girod, moved to a strip mall on Southwest Macadam Avenue in 2010 and moved again to a Hollywood neighborhood storefront in 2015.

Reo’s Ribs has garnered national attention thanks to visits and endorsements from Snoop Dogg, but the business has also faced several challenges over the years. In 2010, neighbors in southwest Portland complained about smoke they said was billowing from the restaurant into their homes. The northeast Portland location was damaged by fires in 2017 and 2020 – the latter was determined to be arson, for which a woman was charged.

After the 2017 fire, Varnado opened up in a video he posted on social media, in which he spoke about the fire and the racism he faced at the restaurant.

“It’s very difficult. It’s just sad, man, that you put your heart and soul into something that you love in life, that you love,” Varnado said.

–Jamie Hale; [email protected]; 503-294-4077; @HaleJamesB

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