If you want to try something new this weekend, look no further than Stephen V. Tran, or @stephenvtran on TikTok. In his brightly colored, pun-filled videos, Tran recommends his favorite local businesses, suggests date ideas and quarantine activities and dunks on Houston and all other Texas cities. He has a smooth, radio DJ-like voice and unwavering curiosity about his surroundings. He loves his city, and he wants you to love it too. In Tran’s words, this is Big Dallas Energy.
Tran, 26, has lived in the Dallas area since he was 1 year old. Like most TikTokers, his content takes on an upbeat, humorous tone and jumps around in subject matter (for him, this includes his job, his family and the comments he’s received about his mustache). Over the past few months, Tran has zeroed in on his specialty; in his words, “it’s a passionate discovery of Dallas, Texas.” He’s half tour guide, half hype man.
Meteor Hamburgers, the Baked Bear and Botolino Gelato Artigianale are just some of the restaurants Tran has reviewed. His most popular video, which includes Keller’s Drive-In, has received more than 180,000 likes. “People love the food content I put out,” he told me over the phone. “Food just brings people together.”
In other videos, Tran tells the origin story of Thanksgiving Square, gazes at the Dallas skyline at night, and jokingly mourns the cancellation of the State Fair of Texas. “See you later, Big Tex,” he says. “I’m always thinking about you, fried Oreos.”
Tran began making his Dallas videos because he enjoyed exploring the city and wanted to recommend his favorite places to his audience. His work as a real estate agent was taking him all over town, and he was excited to share the new spots he discovered. He also knew the algorithm of TikTok’s For You page would work in his favor. The app favors content from nearby creators, meaning that his videos more easily find their way to viewers already living in Dallas.
Tran has amassed just more than 14,600 followers. It may not be much in terms of TikTok stardom, but Tran is glad to spread positivity and share what he loves about Dallas with whomever he can. He also sees TikTok as an excellent way to encourage his viewers to support local Dallas businesses that may be struggling during the pandemic.
“I’ve been blessed to have been given a platform to bring awareness to different businesses,” he said. By showing solidarity, Tran hopes he can bring in extra customers to his favorite businesses while also continuing to grow his own following. “It’s a win-win.”
More than sharing his favorite places around town, Tran is excited to share his optimism and his love for his city. He wants his videos to serve as a source of inspiration and hope, just as Dallas has been for him. “Big Dallas Energy is chasing your dreams, enjoying each moment, and spreading positive vibes,” he says. “The city has its flaws, but it’s a beautiful place to me.”
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