BY BRUCE BRANUM
The Greenville Standard
Bates House of Turkey restaurant recently celebrated their 50th anniversary of being open in Greenville on Wednesday, March 4, with a large crowd in attendance.
The restaurant was founded in 1970 by Bill and Teresa Bates.
It is a family-owned Alabama legend where folks gather for dishes like their famous hickory smoked turkey sandwich or old-fashioned roast turkey dinner.
Also in attendance at the celebration to recognize the milestone of the iconic restaurant’s 50th anniversary were Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon, Casey Rogers for Alabama Congresswoman Martha Roby’s office, as well as Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tracy Salter.
Becky Bates Sloan, who manages the restaurant and is a daughter of Bill and Teresa, said, “I want to welcome everyone here today to this great celebration.
“Behind every great man, there us a great woman and that’s the story of Bates House of Turkey.
“My dad would be in hog heaven today. My mother would be by his side but she didn’t like all the hoopla.
“They were the founders of this landmark. It was a dream my father had.”
“It started when the interstate opened in 1969. Traffic slowed along U.S. Highway 31 where the Bates Turkey Farm is located in Lowndes County.”
Bill decided to open a restaurant in Greenville in 1970. It was the only restaurant in the United States strictly serving turkey as a menu item.
“Over time the menu has changed but still turkey is the main menu staple,” added Sloan.
Bill and Teresa had five children: Jane, Becky, Pete, John and Thomas. They all continue to work, in some fashion, in the business their parents started.
Sloan said, “My mother worked in the restaurant every day until she passed away in 2014.
“My dad was a dreamer and a dooer. He believed in hard work.
“They believed in going the extra mile and that’s what made Bates House of Turkey the success it is today.”
As part of the celebration, Salter presented Sloan with a congratulation plaque in honor of the 50 years of business in Greenville.
Rogers presented Sloan with a Congressional Record from Martha Roby’s office.
McLendon spoke of the prominence of the restaurant to Greenville’s history and recounting old stories and that wherever you go most people know Greenville by Bates House of Turkey.
He added that people who drive past Greenville on the way to the beach always stop to get turkey.
Gov. Ivey also spoke about the long standing tradition of Bates House of Turkey and commented about another long standing tradition of the Governor pardoning the execution of the turkeys gifted to the Governor, Henrietta and Clyde, which are donated by Bates Farms.
Ivey said, “I’d like to congratulate the family for continuing this tradition. We are so proud of your business.”