In 1964, “Jeopardy!” first aired. In 1999, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” broadcasted its first episode. These game shows engaged audiences and created an environment where the audience can play along.
Apps like Trivia Crack, QuizUp and TriviaBurst engage consumers today with interactive platforms to test consumers’ knowledge on subjects like music, literature and pop culture.
To create an even more interactive and engaging platform, restaurants, pubs and event venues host trivia nights that challenge the intelligence of the community.
Jacob Blum of Clive has gone to trivia night at the Des Moines Social Club with a group of at least four people every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. for over a year.
“It’s an excuse to go out and have a beer without just going to a bar or going to a house and making someone entertain,” Blum said.
Brady Campbell, another member of this team that plays trivia every week, said that having an activity like trivia adds natural breaks in a conversation, which makes it easier to socialize.
Because there isn’t as much pressure to socialize, members often bring coworkers or friends from other aspects of their lives.
Megan Leverenz, Blum’s girlfriend and now a part of the trivia group, said it’s a safe space to introduce people.
“I actually was introduced to (my boyfriend’s) friends for the first time at trivia,” Leverenz said. “I guess that was how I got into the friend group.”
Alex Redding has been going to trivia for the past month, and he has made friendships through these trivia nights.
“It keeps you accountable in a social sense,” Redding said. “This is what we do now. It makes you interact with people.”
Katie Ortman is the fundraising and volunteer coordinator at the Des Moines Social Club, and she also organizes the trivia night. She said 60 to 80 people gather every week in the Des Moines Social Club Basement to play six rounds of trivia.
“The hosts are funny, so they have built a sort of repertoire with the crowd,” Ortman said. “In a way, that builds a sense of community, but at the same time we’re always welcome to new people.”
Ortman said that by coming to trivia, people are supporting the Des Moines community both directly and indirectly.
“Directly, it’s a space to hang out together on a Tuesday night,” Ortman said. “Indirectly, they’re supporting the (Des Moines) Social Club, which is a catalyst for community engagement and local artists.”
Prizes include small door gifts given to random participants throughout the night.
Restaurants in the Des Moines area also hold trivia nights, but they give away more relevant prizes.
Dee Cox is a waitress at Wellman’s Pub, which offers trivia every Tuesday night.
Wellman’s Pub offers prizes including a free pizza, discounted drinks or a free pitcher of beer, along with a grand prize of a $40 gift card to the restaurant.
“People like to hang out with their friends, and the prizes are an incentive to come out on a Tuesday,” Cox said.
The Beerhouse in Urbandale also offers weekly trivia on Tuesdays.
Lauren Bailey, the assistant manager, said that a lot of families frequent the restaurant to serve as a family night.
“Since there are no smartphones allowed, families catch up with games, food and beer,” Bailey said. “It’s an opportunity to get together, but it’s also an opportunity to learn. You get to hear the answers to crazy questions that people usually don’t know.”
Although trivia nights benefit patrons, they also benefit the restaurants. Matt Lathrop, a manager at Quinton’s in East Village, said it brings in regulars for one day a week.
“It gives a boost to our normal Tuesday night crowd,” Lathrop said. “The bartenders rely on the certain amount of money they’ll make that night, and it adds to our kitchen revenue, too.”
Since most trivia events happen on weeknights, it gives the restaurants an opportunity to boost sales on what is normally a slower night.
Most of all though, restaurants are looking for regular customers to return for more trivia, food and beverages in a casual and fun atmosphere.