TallTravelEats creator encourages followers to explore the world and support small businesses
VCU Alumni’s annual 10 Under 10 awards celebrate noteworthy and distinctive achievements made by alumni who earned their first Virginia Commonwealth University degree within the past 10 years. This year’s awards honor recent graduates who are taking small businesses to new heights, conducting innovative research in health and human development or producing a seemingly infinite stream of impactful work in their community.
Dominic Brown (B.S.’11/B)
Founder, TallTravelEats brand and marketing
A quick scroll through Dominic Brown’s award-winning social media feeds are sure to whet the audience’s appetite for both culinary and travel adventure. While that’s exactly the response Brown had in mind when he created TallTravelEats, the life-altering events of 2020 have added a higher purpose.
Brown started the TallTravelEats brand and Instagram account in 2017 as an outlet for his love of food and travel. Those two passions were born from the “hidden gem” small businesses he discovered in his travels as a student-athlete. The project grew into a vision of a social media brand that encourages people to explore the world and promotes small businesses in the food and hospitality industries.
Restaurants have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19. As many pivoted to accommodate a marketplace limited to takeout and delivery service, Brown also pivoted and began a focused campaign to use his influential platform to promote restaurants in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. He shared the usual enticing photos of popular dishes but also recorded videos showing safety precautions and contactless takeout tactics and made “top lists” to highlight niches such as best ice cream and best BBQ.
“Small businesses are so crucial to a city’s economy, and seeing the ones in my hometown struggle to survive was gut-wrenching,” he says. “I made it my mission to use the tools I had available to help as best I could.”
The effort earned him recognition in local media and a coveted spot in Richmond Magazine’s Best of 2020 issue as a top local Instagram account and influencer.
Brown grew up just blocks from VCU. His early college years playing basketball took him to Nebraska and California, sparking his desire to explore new places. “I set a goal to visit every state as well as travel the globe after college,” he says. “I want to see everything that the world has to offer firsthand and document it.”
When injuries ended his basketball career, coming home and transferring to VCU was an easy choice. His dual commitment to his studies in marketing and continuing his travels laid the perfect foundation for the TallTravelEats brand. It also gave him the opportunity to give back to the community where he grew up, mentoring young athletes. He has coached at schools and camps throughout Richmond, and during the pandemic, he has volunteered with Atlantic Outreach Group assembling personal hygiene kits for people in need.
Like many, Brown is eager to travel again. His vision for TallTravelEats includes both U.S. and global exploration. His Richmond roots remain strong, however. He lives by the advice from his great-grandfather: “Work hard, stay humble, chase your dreams and never forget where you came from.”