Here’s How A Family-Owned Texas Institution Played A Part In Reba McEntire and Rex Linn’s Love Story

“I just decided that the best way I could flirt with Reba would be to send her good food.”

<p><a href="">David Livingston</a> / Stringer/Getty Images</p>

David Livingston / Stringer/Getty Images

Reba McEntire first met Rex Linn on the set of the movie The Gambler back in the ‘90s. “Reba is so sweet about it. She always says we met working on a movie. This is how we were working on it, “ Linn divulged when the couple recently sat down with Southern Living. “She was co-starring with Kenny Rogers and I had two lines and one day of work. On a horse that I rode into a saloon and go, ‘Yee Haw!’ I love how she tells everybody though, we were working on a movie together.”

The two discovered they had a mutual friend and both grew up in Oklahoma. McEntire was born and raised in Chockie, Oklahoma, and Linn’s family moved from Texas to Oklahoma when he was a child. They stayed in contact over the years but the sparks did not ignite until 2020. “Right before Covid hit we were both doing the TV show Young Sheldon. That’s when Rex found out I was coming to LA and said, ‘do you want to have dinner with me one night while you’re here?’ And I said yeah. Well it didn’t work out for that time but a week later I went back out and we had dinner,” McEntire said. While her friends who were also present knew they had just witnessed the beginnings of a promising romance, McEntire and Linn did not, at least not initially.

“First of all, the last time I had seen Reba, the year before, she was dating someone. So I actually thought her then boyfriend was going to be with her. I had no idea…I didn’t know it was a date at the time, like everybody else did, but I sure had a good time and I sure am glad I went to dinner,” he said.

While the two remained in constant contact after that pivotal dinner, life abruptly changed shortly thereafter. McEntire had returned home to Oklahoma because her mother passed away and then the world shut down due to Covid. Linn spent the lockdown in his home in Los Angeles and McEntire remained in the Sooner State with her sister Susie and Susie’s husband Mark. “Being there and talking and texting every morning, afternoon, and night to Rex, he kinda saw that we were not having great access to a lot of food in Southeastern Oklahoma,” McEntire said before Linn jumped in.

“I just decided that the best way I could flirt with Reba would be to send her good food.” The very first item the Texas born actor sent? Why it was the famous beef tenderloin from Perini’s Ranch Steakhouse out of Buffalo Gap, Texas, of course. Linn shared that he discovered Perini’s through his brother, whom he described as “not really a foodie” after he gifted family members the famous tenderloin one Christmas. “I was shocked. My brother has never turned me on to some new food that I can remember, and man, did he ever bring in the motherload. I wanted to do all the research the second I had a bite of it. I got online and tried to figure out Perini’s. I wanted to go meet Tom and Lisa. I was a Perini freak after that.”

Linn didn’t just stop with the beef tenderloin. He also sent Joe’s Stone Crab from Miami, Cajun food from Lake Charles, Louisiana, ice cream from a local spot in Santa Barbara, and pecan pie from Goode Company in Houston, Texas. “Best pecan pie that’s ever been made,” Linn insisted. “We would gather at night in front of the television, Mark, Susie, and myself, and Susie said ‘okay, I’ll go get some ice cream.’ Well Rex had sent nine pints of assorted flavors and Susie would take one of those little pints and give us one scoop each. She was rationing it so it wouldn’t run out. Afraid he wouldn’t send anymore,” the “Fancy” singer explained.

But Linn’s charm offensive worked. While far apart, the two were binging the same television shows and talking constantly over the phone or via text. And McEntire and her family were enjoying every treat that Linn sent. She said, “it gave us something to look forward to, too. That’s what we needed.” Linn added, “We tried to make the pandemic quarantine situation as fun as we could. So I thought sending good food would keep the love strong.”

It all began with that gift from Perini’s, and as it turned out, Linn and McEntire both went to Texas, met Tom and Lisa, and have become good friends with the pair. Perini Ranch Steakhouse is celebrating their 40th anniversary this year and one of the ways they are marking the occasion is that they have launched their own podcast, Meet Me At The Wagon, produced by Texas Monthly.  And who were some of the first folks to join Lisa and Tom behind the microphone? Rex and Reba, of course. The celebrity couple chatted with the famous Texans about their love story and declared that they are Perini’s number one and number two biggest fans.

Of course their love isn’t based on food alone. They also had the solid foundation of a decades-long friendship and shared roots. “If you’re lucky and fortunate enough to find someone and fall in love with someone who has the same interests and the same ideals you have, and happens to be from the same part of the country, it means a lot. It’s funny because Reba and I talk about our childhoods all the time, and they are identical. I mean I grew up in a little, bitty town, Spearman, Texas, in the panhandle of Texas. Just like the little town she grew up in. And our stories about our grandmothers cooking with Crisco Oil [for example]. There are just so many common threads involved,” Linn said.

McEntire added, “We’re both from Oklahoma. We both love rodeo. He’s a team roper, I’m a barrel racer. We love music. He loves music more than anybody I know. And we love stories and we love to be entertained and we love to entertain.” It seems the pair are a match made in heaven, and that while they may have met nearly thirty years ago, the timing is just right now. “It was really sweet of God to put Rex into my life in this time in my life,” she said, and Linn agreed. “It took me 63 years to find it, but it’s worth the wait.”

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