Bates put Greenville on the map

Published 8:28 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tell someone you’re from Greenville and you’ll likely get one of two responses.

“Oh, isn’t that where Forrest Gump is from?”

To which, everyone who has ever grown up in Greenville will roll his or her eyes and say, “No, that’s Greenbow, and it’s not even a real place.”

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The second response often comes less in the form of a question and more like an excited declaration.

“Greenville. That’s where Bates House of Turkey is!”

To which everyone who has ever grown up in Greenville will smile and nod.

Bates House of Turkey is a Camellia City icon, and a favorite among travelers that pass up and down Interstate 65.

It’s also the brainchild of another Camellia City icon, who has helped put Greenville on the map.

Mr. Bill Bates, whose family has operated Bates Turkey Farm since 1923, opened the restaurant in Greenville in 1970 to coincide with the completion of Interstate 65 and to pick up some of the customers the farm had lost when the Interstate began to draw customers away from the Bates’ farm, which is located in Fort Deposit along Hwy. 31.

It proved to be a stroke of genius.

Bates quickly became a favorite dining stop for travelers.

In fact, it’s one of those places where you have to eat at least once before you die.

But don’t take my word for it.

Bates House of Turkey’s hickory smoked turkey sandwich has been featured on the “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die” each year since 2005.

On Monday, Bates passed away.

He was 89, and still involved in the operation of the family’s farm and restaurant.

His passing is a loss for our community and our state.

Mr. Bates was an active member of the state’s Republican party, a Rotarian, A World War II veteran, a dedicated family man, a savvy businessman, and just an all-around fantastic person who was always quick to share a smile and a kind word with anyone he crossed paths with.

He will certainly be missed, not only in Greenville, but also across the state.