When Tanya Bathija was younger, she recalled a teacher asking her what she wanted to be when she grew up.
She confidently answered, “I want to be my dad.”
Her father, Ben Bathija, worked in the garment industry in New York City for over 20 years and became a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee back in 2002 when he opened his first Dunkin’ on William Floyd Parkway near Montauk Highway.
“I want to be an entrepreneur, now I understood the word, what it means to be an entrepreneur and what that consists of — it’s a jack of all trades,” Tanya Bathija said.
She said she knew she wanted to follow in his footsteps and one day become a real estate and franchising tycoon.
The Bathija family debuted their eighth Dunkin’ Donuts location at 1669 Montauk Highway in Bellport on April 7, after breaking ground about a year ago.
“We are very happy to have good people behind us,” said Ben Bathija at the Bellport Dunkin’ ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Tanya Bathija said she has taken an inquisitive approach to learning the ropes of the business, in hopes of continuing her family’s legacy as co-owner of the Montauk Dunkin’ Group.
“When I go for all the training, I’m always the one that sits in the front, I’m the one who is so involved, who loves to ask questions and loves to give answers and examples,” she said. “Franchises love that. The world is an oyster, you just make it yours.”
This is the story of Tanya’s journey into the entrepreneurial world.
A desire to “rule the world one day”
Tanya Bathija said she has always been an ambitious person — whatever she puts her mind to, she accomplishes.
She finished high school and college in just six years, getting a jump on college courses during high school.
For her undergraduate education, she attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and studied international business and fashion design.
After earning an MBA, she jumped into her quest to become the “female version” of her dad, she said.
She added that she not only draws inspiration from her father, but also from her mother, Sonia Bathija, who balanced work with raising three children.
“Women are coming up and they need the support of their parents, their mothers, to go ahead in life,” Sonia Bathija said. “We are there behind you.”
Tanya Bathija’s mom and dad have been incredibly supportive throughout her life and have given the world to her, she said.
“My parents taught me independence, you don’t ever want to rely on anyone or anything, you want to be your own person,” Tanya Bathija said. “My mom always said ‘In this world, people may say men and woman are not equal, but you are equal to a man — you can do just as much as a man can do.’”
Tanya Bathija said her father immigrated to the United States from India when he was 17 to achieve the “American dream” and take care of his entire family.
His daughter deemed him “the Indian godfather.”
“I want to be the Indian godmother when I’m at that level,” Tanya Bathija said. “It’s amazing to be called his daughter.”
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The ultimate people person
The ideal career for Tanya is a job where she can make people happy, she said.
And her work as a certified public accountant and franchisee fulfills that.
She runs a tight ship at the new “Next Gen” Dunkin’ Donuts location in Bellport, which is the first drive-thru location of this design, she said.
“I have regulars, I have business owners that come now who I work with, even go to lunch with,” Tanya Bathija said. “When you’re involved as an owner, and customers see that, they like it,”
She expressed the joy she feels when she transforms into a “mixologist” and makes special coffee drinks for customers.
Some regulars will only buy a drink if Tanya Bathija makes it, she said.
A cup of coffee is usually the start of someone’s day, and she said it’s important she helps start it off right.
“When it comes to business, I am a tough woman, but with a tender heart,” she said.
Inspiring the next generation
Representation matters for Tanya Bathija because it inspires others to go out and achieve their goals, she said.
Her advice for other young women pursuing business is to stay determined, believe in themselves and forget about what other people think.
“It’s always going to be you that creates that success for yourself,” she added. “There’s a great quote: ‘If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.’”
In addition to her latest Bellport Dunkin’ venture, Tanya Bathija is participating in a Miss United States competition focused on accomplished professional women.
“I got into modeling to show young women and young girls, there’s no perfect size, there’s no such thing as perfect beauty, beauty comes from within,” she said. “Beauty comes from your personality and brains, not your looks or your size.”
As a business owner, she also believes in caring for her employees and being a role model for the younger generation. She said she feels a responsibility to advocate for her employees in any way she can.
This includes helping them out with balancing work and school; creating a safe, friendly work environment; and offering support to those who may not have it at home.
“One person who works for you and makes it, you are their backbone that made it happen,” Tanya Bathija said. “I tear up … my parents did a lot for me, so if I could do the same thing for one person and make a difference, then I’ve accomplished something.”
Top: Tanya Bathija posing inside her new Bellport Dunkin’ Donuts.