College students gather at Bob’s Pizza on Tuesday nights (Photo by Adina Keeling)

On Tuesday evenings, groups of Northwestern students hurry down Sherman and Chicago Avenue to snag a table at Bob’s Pizza.

The restaurant hosts Trivia Night every Tuesday at 8 p.m., and while players are busy scribbling answers onto note cards, servers supply steaming pizzas and $10 pitchers of beer, a favorite among the college students. 

“Bob’s Trivia is kind of the hottest joint in Evanston these days,” Northwestern student Sarika Rao said. Rao said that two weeks ago, she arrived at Bob’s at 6:30 p.m, only to discover the restaurant had no more available seating.

Disappointed, Rao decided to beat the crowds the next week, arriving the following Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. Fortunately, she was able to grab a table for her team of eight, and her group ended up finishing second. It was the highlight of her life, Rao said with a laugh. 

Northwestern student Noah Rabinovitch, who has attended Bob’s every Tuesday for the last couple weeks, said Trivia Night is “very lively” and familiar faces frequent the restaurant. 

Formerly the home of The Whiskey Thief, which hosted its own trivia nights, Bob’s Pizza, located at 616 Davis St., rebranded several months ago, and the staff decided to keep trivia nights alive. The evening of raucous Q & A is free for all comers, and the top three teams win a gift card to Bob’s Pizza. 

Besides an early start, the only thing players need is a team name, intelligent teammates, and a flair for the obscure: Players familiar with the type of wood used in wooden baseball bats, or those who could identify the mushroom who’s scientific name is agaricus bisporus, prevailed in last Tuesday’s competition. Other questions asked were about the top ingredient in Vegemite, the year Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet and the name of the third book of the Old Testament. 

A trivia explosion in Evanston

Trivia Night is run by Go 4 It Entertainment, a company that offers a variety of entertainment services and is often hired by restaurants, bars and corporations. Go 4 It Entertainment owner Gabriel Ortiz said the Bob’s Pizza location is especially popular because of the proximity to Northwestern. Trivia attracts Northwestern students, who are “very smart and very competitive,” said Ortiz. 

When Bob’s Pizza first hosted Trivia Night, about 12 teams showed up, said Bob’s General Manager Mark Hayashi. Now, Hayashi said that number is up to 33, and at the Aug. 10 trivia night, he estimated there were between 160 and 175 players. 

“It’s an energy-packed night. I love that everyone’s having a good time,” said Hayashi. “This is my favorite night to work the dining room.”

Trivia hosts Matthew Bird and Maximilian Grace, who work for Go 4 It Entertainment, said they realize that Bob’s Trivia is one of the most successful and popular events in Evanston. 

“This is the biggest night in the whole company,” Grace said. 

Bob’s Pizza isn’t the only restaurant to host trivia nights in Evanston. The Firehouse Grill has hosted Trivia nights, and Stacked and Folded hosted its first trivia game last Thursday.

During trivia halftime, a friend group splits pitchers and appetizers. Pictured from left to right are Geena Vetula, Curtis DeBisschop, Conor Metz, and Gaby Alfieri. ( Photo by Adina Keeling)

The evening of questions consists of six rounds, and at the end of each round, the hosts ask an additional bonus question whose answer is a numerical value. The three teams that guess the closest numbers receive points, and the team that guesses closest to the right answer gets free shots for the table, which the hosts call “tasty treats.”

Questions fall into a variety of categories, with some at the Aug. 10 trivia night testing the players’ knowledge of John Williams, the kookaburra bird, the function of the spleen and the definition of the word ideogram. 

The hosts also play 90 seconds of a song after every question, which acts as a hint so that players who aren’t trivia whizzes still have a shot. For example, following a question about the third book in the Old Testament, the hosts played the song “Levitating,” by Dua Lipa featuring DaBaby. The correct answer is the Book of Leviticus, so identifying the song name helped push players in the right direction. 

A team of writers from all over the world write the trivia questions, said Ortiz. A DJ himself, Ortiz said he’s “a fantastic name-that-tune player,” so he developed the idea of adding songs as hints. 

On Aug. 10, a team of recent NU grads won first place. The former students said they are leaving Evanston soon, and this was their last game of trivia. Willa Barnett said she and her fellow players had a good feeling about the night. 

“We’ve been coming out here for months. We put in the hours, the dedication and the bar tab,” added teammate Daniel Konstantinos.

Adina Keeling

Adina Keeling is a photojournalist and reporter, covering city news, sustainability, schools, and art. She also investigates mental health systems and environmental injustices in Evanston, and puts together...