The co-owners of Chatters sit at the bar, laughing.


Like a lot of people who didn’t grow up in Pittsburg, Shelly Basgall moved here to attend Pitt State. And like many college students, she needed a place to earn some money while in school.

“I started at Chatters about five months after it opened,” she said. “I worked here through college. I did whatever they needed me to do. I just wanted to help. Then I graduated, had two sons, and it was time to make a plan for my life.

“That’s when Ahmad realized how much he needs me and loves me and wanted me to stay here forever with him. That was 22 years ago, and we’ve been climbing the mountain together ever since.”

If this is starting to sound like a love story … well, it kinda is. But not like that.

If this is starting to sound like a love story … well, it kinda is. But not like that.

“In my 22 years doing this, I’ve never had an individual that genuinely had my back like Shelly does,” Ahmad Enayati said. “Through the great times and the dark times, she’s always there.”

Through those years, Chatters has been all over the place, by their own admission. The menu changes. The staff changes. The space changes. There was the fire. Then Covid. Then the recovery. Then Covid again. But through it all, the two owners of Chatters weather it together. As true friends.

“The last thing I expected when going into the pandemic was that we’d come out of it stronger than ever,” Enayati said. “Shelly is my partner, and I knew our relationship was strong. But that was all validated through this whole Covid thing. The determination we both have to get through this really show just how strong our relationship is today.”

A woman holds a drink at Chatter's Restaurant

Basgall said the key to their successful partnership has been a shared devotion to the community they serve.

“Ahmad and I love tradition,” she said. “We love the small town traditions. We love Pittsburg. That’s really what keeps us here. I could have easily gone back to Wichita, but I would not be as happy or fulfilled there. I wouldn’t have that connection with so many different groups of people like we have here.”

Ahmad quickly added that part of their success also comes from Shelly’s incredible patience with him.

“I’m an adrenaline junkie,” he said. “Quote me on that, and people will interpret that how they want. It’s all true. A lot of my ideas and decisions here are not based on making money, and sometimes that can feel like an insane business plan. 

“But we’re doing this together,” he said. “I know I drive her crazy sometimes, and I can tell when I messed up. I usually just step back, give her a moment, then come back to tell her I realized I upset her. Sometimes we have to tell our staff that, ‘yes, mom and dad fight sometimes.’”

Shelly said the two partners are the quintessential yin and yang.

“The whole town knows it,” she said. “We’re an open book. That’s how it works.”