PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Reo Varnado, a well known Portland restaurateur who also built a national reputation for food and entertainment, died Friday night, multiple sources reported.
In a Facebook post, his brother Ricky Varnado, said Reo died around 10:30 p.m. Friday:
“My heart is hurting badly, my brother Reo Varnado passed away last night @ 10:30pm, I need prayers & comfort to make it through this rough period in my life!!! R I P my brother, I’m going to miss you dearly!!!”
Reo was also Snoop Dogg’s uncle. In an Instagram post, Snoop Dogg said:
“Uncle. Reo. 🙏🏾😢🌹. U will be missed. Thank u for loving me and the whole world u were a blessing 👊🏾”
Reo owned Reo’s Ribs in Northeast Portland’s Hollywood District and overcame two separate fires. At the time of the first fire in 2017, Reo was in Los Angeles taping television segments with Martha Stewart when the fire destroyed his restaurant.
He told Stewart his secret ingredient: “When you got Jesus in there, you don’t need nothin’ else.”
That fire was determined to be accidental, but Reo Varnado said at the time he did not believe that.
Then in November 2020, another fire damaged the rebuilt restaurant inside and out. The fire happened at the same time as some protest-related damage in the neighborhood, though Reo’s wasn’t targeted by the protesters.
One person was arrested for the 2020 arson about a month later.
Beyond his restaurants, Reo often sang at nightclubs or with his gospel group, The Beyonds. He even signed up for a couple small movie roles in Los Angeles.