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Using Trivia for Restaurants

Using Trivia for Restaurants


In our continued series looking at different venues in which to run trivia and different ideas on what kind of places you can approach that may hire you for trivia we are going to take a look at any area people often do not concern themselves with and that is using trivia for Restaurants. Around the globe, trivia hosts are running events and occasions in restaurants and making good healthy profits from it. When I use the word restaurant I am referring to the kind of places that are bars where food is served. You may struggle to get work in “food only” restaurants but there are chains out there that are hiring trivia nights such as Apple Bee’s, Dave and Busters and their lounge style facilities are perfect for trivia. So when we look at using trivia for restaurants this is what we are thinking about.


Personally, I feel you are wasting your time contacting upper class, food only places as they typically are not going to want trivia involved, at least this is my experience. However, some trivia hosts might have found success in this area of food-only restaurants.  Food-only restaurants are difficult to get into because table space is at a premium and any restaurant with long reservation lists and busy nights are not going to want trivia.  This is because the whole point of trivia is get people into bars and lounges to sell more alcohol, but many food-only restaurants want people in and out quickly so they can make more money. So you first have to be very careful with which potential venus you approach otherwise you may find yourself wasting time. I would suggest a scout of some venues in the evenings, see if it is suitable and then approach.


Again, quite simply using trivia for restaurants shares a lot of the same ideas as if you were running it in a bar but I have some useful tips and hints of the differences between the two locations and how you can maximize your chances of running a successful trivia night.


  • The first tip I am going to give you is all about pacing. Pacing is vital to however you decide to run your trivia in a restaurant as you do not want to run too quickly as people will be eating, looking at menus, ordering and chatting. If you give them too much to do they are hardly likely to sacrifice eating and play trivia, they will eat and not play trivia and then you as a host becomes redundant. You need a good, relaxed pace giving players time.
  • The type of trivia you run here is different to normal bars and this is one of the few times in the blog I am going to suggest to you that a pen and paper trivia contest may be best suited to these occasions or something that extreme music bingo. Let us look at both options….


Extreme Music Bingo is great because it has short games and means people can play a few rounds. Eat …and then play another few games. If you make it fun and exciting you may encourage that “one more game” feel that keeps players playing. After people are done eating what you would ideally want is players to say “Let’s stay and have a bottle of wine and play some trivia”. Extreme Bingo is ideal for this format with games starting every 10-15 minutes. You will find everyone is ready and willing to play. You may find that you cannot use buzzers, clobber or anything that may require a longer play time. Short, sharp games that are simple and to the point work best here and that is going to be games like Extreme Bingo.



  • The other options is to keep it simple with a simple pen and paper. Hand different rounds out with the questions pre-written in every now and then. Maybe one round per half hour of 10-15 questions with a mixture of pictures and written questions. Allow your players time, read out the answers and keep an ongoing score. It will work and although it may not be as entertaining as something like Extreme Bingo you will still find that your players enjoy it and it will still keep them playing.  Then you can use a wireless buzzer system at the end for a fast-paced trivia round as a grand finale.
  • Try to get good prizes from the bar and kitchen. Free meals, 2 for 1 vouchers, bottles of wine…anything you can. 2-for-one meals are a good idea as it means players are more likely to come back. If you play it cleverly and balance out the prizes so there are some every 60-90 minutes players will stay. If a family is deciding to leave and you suddenly announced “Prize round in 25 minutes….get your pens ready as this is a good one!… a free meal for a family of 4”……maybe they will just buy another round of drinks or two.
  • Timing is also vital and as an experienced trivia host you need to be discussing this with the owner. Too early in the evening and you will get the people who are just out from work needing a quick bite to eat or the people who need to be home. Too late and most of your core customers will be too drunk or will have left and there won’t be enough time to run the event and keep them spending. So you need that key time around 7pm – 8pm when people have been home, got changed, unwound from work and are on the night out. These are the people who will stay and play your trivia!

Wireless Buzzer Game

In essence then, if you are looking at tips on using trivia for restaurants then following the above ideas is as good a place as any to start. You need to remember these 2 main points:

  • The owners will want you to keep people there, they may stagger prizes to ensure this and they will want them coming back.
  • You need to make sure your trivia is paced well, doesn’t demand too much from the audience and doesn’t demand much technology. This is where a pen and paper quiz works well with initial rounds as I have mentioned above.


Restaurants are willing to pay and pay well for trivia that works and even if your trivia night makes them buy a few extra drinks, a desert or a few coffees then you are doing your job.

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