Local trivia nights increase in popularity

Restaurants follow Mellow Mushroom’s lead, draw in crowds

lf-Trivia-CourtesyMellowMushroom

Mellow Mushroom hosts Trivia Night every Wednesday at 9 p.m.

Courtesy Mellow Mushroom

This semester, the Corner and other locations have seen an increase in the popularity of trivia nights. While Mellow Mushroom has held a weekly trivia night since its opening 16 years ago, other locations — such as Crozet Pizza and World of Beer — have begun opening their doors to Charlottesville’s trivia enthusiasts.

Mellow is often filled to capacity on Wednesdays, with many students arriving an hour early to snag a table. Glancing around the room, there are a range of expressions marking participants’ faces — though trivia fanatics listen intently to each question, furrowing their brows as they quickly write the answers, some players take the competition a little less seriously, beaming as they sing and dance to the current song. Others have worried expressions, sneaking their phones beneath the table, hoping the Honor Code doesn’t count on the Corner. 

“Compete in Trivia Night at Mellow Mushroom” is even a box to check on the yearly fourth-year bucket list, and the overflowing attendance each week shows how many students have checked that box.

The atmosphere and crowd at Mellow Mushroom every Wednesday night has inspired other restaurants to host trivia.

“Other places on the Corner have started trivia night, so they poached some of our people,” Mellow Mushroom employee Eliza Spilsbury said. “We’re trying to bring people back with themed trivia nights, like Harry Potter, when the line for the restaurant was out the door and down the street.”

Just down the street, Crozet Pizza and Buddhist Biker Bar has been successful in drawing in the overflow from Mellow Mushroom’s trivia night. Medical student Anders Nelson, the Crozet trivia night organizer, talked about the progression of trivia nights at Crozet.

“We figured there would be enough overflow with people not getting into Mellow that they would come here,” Nelson said. “That happened for a while, but now it’s just too cold … I think we’re going to stop for a while and then restart again in February. Crozet is an outdoors-only bar, so the cold weather is definitely having an impact.”

Overall, Crozet has a smaller crowd than Mellow, but participants are equally enthusiastic.

“I like it a lot better than Mellow because it’s less crowded,” fourth-year College student Kennedy Levee said. “You don’t have to come super early and save a table. It’s definitely chiller, and there’s less competition because there’s less people. So, I feel you have a better chance of winning.”

Nelson formulates the questions for Crozet trivia himself, searching the web for interesting facts about everything from sports to mythology.

“It’s kind of interesting because you’ll get into a Wikipedia rabbit hole for a while and learn so much stuff,” Nelson said. “Last week, I read a lot about ancient Egyptian history and their social system, which I wouldn’t have read about otherwise.”

Trivia-goers view answering questions correctly as a source of pride.

“Answering the questions that no one thinks you’ll know the answers to is my favorite part,” second-year College student Cameron Brandon said. “That’s why it’s fun. One time I was asked what the capital of Slovenia was — no one in the entire place knew it — and I was like ‘boom’ and everyone looked at me.”

Mellow Mushroom employees Spilsbury and Skylar McCabe help to organize and facilitate Trivia Night. The Mellow team bands together to find questions by taking trivia quizzes online, and Spilsbury chooses the weekly themes. Spilsbury said she tries to go off things are relevant that week. With finals week coming, last week’s theme was to take one of your classes and turn it into a horrible holiday gift.

“They tend to get dirty, which is the fun part, so people can go wild with it,” Spilsbury said.

World of Beer hosts Tuesday trivia nights with a happy hour. World of Beer employee Patrick Callahan said the atmosphere is what’s fun about working trivia nights — big crowd, fun facts and good food. He also said the entertainment is what makes their trivia night stand out. 

“District Trivia does our trivia, and that's CJ and Megan, and they do a great job,” Callahan said. “They're super fun on stage, with corny jokes in between, and it's always pretty concise.”

The increase in local trivia night popularity shows University students are on a quest for knowledge and camaraderie — or maybe just the drink deals.

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