WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A group of Wichita grandmas is back inside their old stomping grounds after more than 18 months.

“It felt so good to be able to sit down and have a table in front of us,” said Deena Chapman. “It was a year and a half before we went inside a restaurant.”

Chapman, Lucrecia Smith, and Shirley King started visiting the west Wichita McDonald’s more than a decade ago. For more than 10 years, they have met nearly every day inside and enjoyed one another’s company over coffee and some grub.

“If you are here, you are here. You don’t stay away because you don’t know what they might be saying about you when you are at home,” laughed King.

In March 2020, the ladies were forced to find an alternative meeting space after McDonald’s closed its dining room. So rather than nix their tradition altogether, they made the restaurant’s parking lot their new meeting space.

“They decided they could sit outside. I used to tell them, ‘what are you going to do this winter?’ They said, ‘well, we don’t know. We ware going to get heaters.’ They wanted me to build them a lean-to. I said, I can’t do that,” laughed McDonald’s store owner Bob Lane. “Anyhow, we came back open, and that made their day.”

“Turned the heater on, rolled the windows down, and I don’t think we missed a day all winter even when it was 17 below we were out there,” King explained.

If the weather was suitable, the ladies would sit in their lawn chairs. They even brought their own food trays.

“We get two hours of gossiping in and go home,” King laughed.

In June, McDonald’s reopened its dining room. So finally, the ladies were able to ditch their lawn chairs and cars for a table and chairs.

“One thing nice about not eating in the car, you don’t have to vacuum every week. If we had ever let the birds in, they would have had a field day with all the crumbs on the floor,” King said.

“At first, we watched to see if anybody came in, and at first, there was no one coming in, and finally, we just decided we were going to go back in. It just took one time, and we were ready,” Chapman explained.

Chapman said the time away from the routine made her take a step back and reevaluate what is important in her life.

“It makes you stop and think what you have. You appreciate everything a little more,” she said.

The women said they are elated to be back, and they hope it stays that way.

“They all get their shots, so we don’t have to go through this again,” Chapman said.

“Wear those masks, get your shot,” King said.