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Influential People

Running the Extra Mile

Written by: Cristina Deptula

Nikita Khandheria's Recipe for Success

Coast to Coast: How Ditas Founder manages to run a successful restaurant while juggling college and cross-country flights.

Young Sausalito restaurateur Nikita Khandheria starts each day with at least a three-mile (4.8 km) run. She says that’s what she needs to release her competitive energy. 

“Our team notices a difference in me after I’ve had my run,” she says. “They remind me to go get my exercise, as I’m much easier to deal with then.” 

An athlete since childhood, Khandheria suggests that if she hadn’t opened Ditas in coastal Sausalito, she might have played rugby professionally. She currently enjoys climbing walls and treadmill jogs, taking phone calls and listening to podcasts while moving her body. 

Khandheria approaches business with the mindset of an athlete on the field or in the gym, always ready to pivot with changing conditions and determined to keep improving her performance. As her personal aphorism goes, “Excellence is a moving target.”

Early Excellence

Unlike most restaurateurs, Khandheria is in her early twenties, still finishing college on the East Coast, and flying across the country weekly to Sausalito to check on Ditas.

“I make that work by doing everything on the plane: reading, writing, studying. I can do everything except working out on the plane,” says Khandheria. 

Though young, she’s far from inexperienced: Khandheria began her career at age twelve in India, doing medical checkups at a clinic for rural women. As a teen, she attended law school in the United States, trying her first case in a San Francisco district court at age fifteen. She was attracted to dependency law as it provided opportunities for her to advocate for people and families. 

Later, she was accepted to a dual degree program that, while quite prestigious, would take her away from her family for quite some time. Sad about not being able to see her as often, her dad brought her along to one of his business trips in India. 

“One morning, he had to go somewhere at 6:30,” she remembers. “I was annoyed that he’d got me up so early, so while he was gone, I thought I’d embarrass him by wandering the hotel and inserting myself into random conversations. I stepped into a room where some entrepreneurs were discussing restaurants, and I asked very good questions. The rest is history!”

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