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Bates a Greenville fixture for 40 years

Forty years and counting: That’s how long Bates House of Turkey has been a fixture in the community.

This Thursday, March 4, its founder, Bill Bates, will be joining friends and customers at the restaurant to celebrate this milestone.

The restaurant was not an original part of Bates Turkey Farm, which opened in the 1940s.

People traveling up and down Highway 31, once a major route for traffic heading north and south, would stop and buy turkey products in earlier years. Once Interstate 65 was constructed, that changed.

“We used to get a lot of traffic at the farm and people would stop and purchase a variety of turkey products. When they built the interstate . . . it left a void. That is when my mom and dad (Teresa and Bill) purchased the land in Greenville so they could have access to those travelers once again,” said Becky Bates-Sloan, daughter of Bill Bates and manager of the restaurant.

The original restaurant, which opened on March 4, 1970 to coincide with complete of the interstate, mostly offered sandwiches on its menu.

Trying to run a business featuring only turkey products proved a challenge, but as people became more health-conscious the restaurant started to take off.

Sloan says it is the restaurant’s repeat customers over the years that are the driving force of Bates House of Turkey.

The anniversary party for the restaurant will kick off at 10 a.m. Thursday with cake, punch, and of course, samples of their famed turkey products.