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Family announces death of Reo Varnado, owner of Reo's Ribs

Varnado was a mainstay in the Portland restaurant scene and the uncle of rapper Snoop Dogg.
Credit: @Snoopdogg Instagram
A photo posted on Snoop Dogg's Instagram pays tribute to his late uncle Reo Varnado, owner of Reo's Ribs in Portland.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Reo Varnado, owner of Portland restaurant Reo's Ribs and uncle of rapper Snoop Dogg, died on Friday night, according to his family.

Varnado's brother, Ricky Varnado, posted a Facebook message on Saturday morning announcing that his brother had died the night before. The cause of death was not specified.

Snoop Dogg, who made multiple visits to Reo's Ribs over the years and repeatedly posted about the restaurant on social media, added a message on Instagram on Sunday with a picture of himself and Varnado.

"U will be missed. Thank u for loving me and the whole world u were a blessing," he wrote.

Varnado and business partner Myra Girod founded Reo's Ribs in 1999, bringing Mississippi-style barbecue to the Portland area. The restaurant was originally located in Southwest Portland, but later moved to Southeast Portland and then eventually to its current location in the Hollywood neighborhood.

The restaurant was heavily damaged by a fire in May 2017, but reopened in late 2018. A second fire damaged the building again in 2020. 

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Varnado initially said he suspected the first fire to have been set deliberately by racists, though a Portland Fire & Rescue investigation later ruled out the possibility of arson.

Investigators did suspect the second fire to be arson, and Willamette Week reported in December 2020 that Jennifer Lynn Cole had been indicted on two counts of arson for allegedly starting the fire.