September 1, 2009

The answer is ... Team Trivia filling local bars

(From left to right) Nick Tabbert, Eric Basaldua and Brad Winter discuss a trivia question Tuesday night during Team Trivia at the San Francisco Grill, 6300 Washington Ave. The three guys were playing under the team name "Car Brad Bass."

It came down to this: What corporation unveiled a new logo in 2005 that would go on to become internationally famous?

a.) Burger King

Tied for first place, we needed the right answer to secure the win. Huddled in a booth at Shilling's Pub on Wisconsin Ave., we debated the King vs. the Gilbert Gottfried-voiced duck. Which came out in 2005? Fairly confident, we submitted our answer to the judge and waited.

* * *

Back up two hours earlier. My wife and I are at Shillings on a Thursday night to see "Team Trivia," an increasingly popular bar game that pits teams together to compete for gift certificates and a chance at a year-end title. The games started in Racine about a year ago are now hosted in 10 Racine-area bars five nights a week.

Based on our time playing, the game works because it gives people something to talk about. We teamed up with a friend and three people we'd never met. After a few awkward introductions, we were debating questions and answers in no time. While some members knew a crank record player from the early 1900s was a Victrola phonograph (I had no idea), others remembered a reality show to pick the new lead singer of INXS. Everyone brought something.

We weren't alone in discovering teamwork. The bar was packed with at least 14 teams of varying numbers - one guy played alone, while other teams had six or members - whispering about the 100 Years War and trying to place an obscure lyric from a Third Eye Blind song. (Photo-Right: A team playing trivia at the San Francisco Grill on Tuesday night.)

The games, presented by Team Trivia Wisconsin, include 20 questions on a variety of topics. Teams reach a consensus answer and then bid points on how confident they are that they're right. At the end, the team with the most points wins the game, and usually a gift certificate from the hosting bar.

Teams can also register to join the Team Trivia league, which keeps track of teams' points throughout the season. At the end of the season, the teams with the highest point totals over 20 games (teams can play at any participating Racine bar during the week) are invited to a final game to compete for $1,000 in prizes.

Local bars that host games include: Shillings, Evelyn's, George's, McAuliffe's on the Square and McAuliffe's Pub, San Francisco Grill, Jose's Blue Sombrero, Chat's and Michigan's Pub.

The bars hire Team Trivia Wisconsin, which is a national franchise, to run games as a draw for customers on slower nights. The company has won over local bars. A year after moving into Racine, Team Trivia runs games at two bars in Racine on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and at four bars in Racine and Kenosha on Thursdays.

A team member submits an answer to Phil, the host at the San Francisco Grill on Tuesday night.

Jason Bennett, who was hired a year ago when Team Trivia broke into Racine, said the games draw at least 50 people a night. They really took off in Racine this summer, drawing big crowds throughout the week, he said.

"It's a chance to go out, have a fun and win a prize," Bennett said. "Everyone seems to be a fan."

The Team Trivia company, based in Atlanta and started 20 years ago, offers a slick setup for the trivia games. Bennett actually refers to the games as "shows," which is a good description. Along with the straight-up trivia, he plays music between questions, announces funny (usually wrong) answers and keeps tabs on the standings.

Bennett runs the shows off of a laptop that spits out questions, records answers and tallies league results. A college graduate, he fell into the job last year after he couldn't find work. It was a lucky break. Along with enjoying the work (he gets paid to hangout in bars), he's had success in adding new places and expanding the company's reach in Racine and Kenosha.

"It's become more full-time than I expected," Bennett said about the job. "I can't complain."

From his perspective, Bennett said the games create a "talking point" people seem to enjoy. Discussing a trivia question can lead to a story or a joke that brings everyone closer together. In at least once instance, he said, a couple met playing trivia and has been dating for six months.

"The questions lead to great conversation," he said. "In a bar setting people like to talk."

Team Trivia Wisconsin is spreading throughout the state. After starting in Milwaukee, the company now runs games in Madison, Eau Claire and Green Bay, along with Racine and Kenosha.

* * *

Heading into that final question, our team was tied for first with 63 points. We'd only missed three answers all night and victory was in our grasp. We bid the max number of points on the final question and settled on the Burger King King as the logo introduced in 2005. The AFLAC duck has been around forever, right?


It was a trick question. The Aflac duck was introduced in 1999, but the company adopted the duck as its logo in 2005.

The wrong answer sent our team tumbling from first to 11th place. It was a disappointing outcome, but hardly ruined the night. The game was fun and we left Shillings with some new friends. All in all, a good time.

About Team Trivia

If you want to play Team Trivia, visit and find tonight's location. Then just show up before the game, register your team and you're ready to go.

If you want to join the Team Trivia fall league, register on the Team Trivia website and take the number to the game host.

One hint: Team Trivia provides one free answer a night on its website. So if you're heading out to play, go online first and get the answer ahead of time to get a head start on the competition.

Another hint: Some nights hosts give out a prize for the funniest/most creative team name.

Last hint: Bennett said teams with large numbers aren't necessarily the most competitive. Lots of members means lots of opinions and not necessarily the right answer. A two-member team won the Summer League's $750 first prize, and one guy has won several weekly games, Bennett said.

Team Trivia Location in Racine

Sunday - McAuliffe's Pub, 3700 Meachem Rd.

Monday - Jose's Blue Sombrero, 6430 Washington Ave; Evelyn's Club Main, 331 Main St.

Tuesday - The San Francisco Grill, 6300 Washington Ave.; McAuliffe's on the Square, 213 6th St.

Wednesday - McAuliffe's Pub, 3700 Meachem Rd.; Michigan's Pub, 1300 Michigan Blvd.

Thursday - Shillings Irish Pub, 611 Wisconsin Ave.; George's Tavern, 1201 N. Main St.

Saturday - Chats at the Racine Marriott, 7111 Washington Ave.


  1. Don't you mean, 'YEAHH!!'?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. If you are interested in hiring Team Trivia as entertainment for your bar, please contact Jason Bennett, or 2629026059