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Jo Ellen Bates, owner of historic Soulsville eatery The Four Way, dies

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The owner of the historic soul food restaurant the Four Way grill in Memphis has died, according to family members on social media.

Jo Ellen Bates died Sunday, her family said. The Four Way will be closed this week.

Irene and Clint Cleaves opened The Four Way Grill at Mississippi Boulevard and Walker Avenue in 1946.  Martin Luther King Jr. enjoyed eating fried catfish, fried chicken and peach cobbler on his visits to Memphis.

The restaurant closed for a time in the late 1990s. In 2001, Willie Bates and a partner bought it on the courthouse steps. Bates died in 2016; the restaurant is now owned and run by his daughter, Patrice Bates Thompson.

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