Trivia Fumbles at Eastlake Bar and Grill


The Bar: Eastlake Bar and Grill, home of the $12 Grilled Cheese Sandwich!

The Quiz: (Tuesdays, 7PM, $2 per teammate) Pithy descriptions aside, the quiz at Eastlake Bar and Grill is at least more enticing than any of Neighborhood Grill's massively overpriced vegetarian options (WARNING: actually clicking the link in this particular sentence will bring you some massively loud embedded music that may shock and annoy anyone who has been to a website after 1998). Coming in at three rounds of ten questions each, Wheeler Trivia is named for the quiz composer of all trivia nights for restaurants under the Neighborhood Grills banner, as well as tonight's host.

Wheeler Trivia has an unapologetic emphasis on pop culture, but still keeps a healthy curiosity towards history and sports. Unfortunately, curiosity doesn't automatically lead to question balance, and it's rather disconcerting when you see a single genre of knowledge regularly offer questions that are far more relevant and novel than any other. Honestly, it makes a good portion of the quiz feel like it was rushed through in order to make a full thirty questions.

In a particularly grievous example, one six-point question asked to name all the children of the Brady Bunch, a move that (perhaps) inadvertantly inflated scores with what was essentially one of the biggest gimme questions in pop culture trivia history. I'm not panning the entire night for one eye-rolling question flub, but it was certainly a big speed bump in the night's stride.

Turn-out was a mere four teams, although this was largely in part due to the quiz going through a radical schedule shuffle. Apparently, the quiz was much more popular when people weren't distracted by Monday Night Football, leading to the night's trial move from Mondays to Tuesdays.

The move itself is common sense, but a lack of loyal players leads into an important concern: how many people are at Eastlake Bar and Grill with Wheeler Trivia as an afterthought, and how many people are there specifically because they enjoy the pub quiz? At Eastlake, a low turn-out would certainly insinuate the crowd leans towards the former.

There are a couple of big upsides to Wheeler Trivia -- the simpler of which is a rapid-fire pace that gets you out of the bar with plenty of night left to spare. Perhaps more importantly, Eastlake Bar and Grill doesn't skimp on prizes. First place gets the entire cash pot as well as a $50 gift certificate (that's almost four Grilled Cheese Sandwiches!). Second place gets a free round of drinks, while third place gets a smaller gift certificate. If you're playing to win, a $2 buy-in means Eastlake is one of your best options.

The Host: Amanda Wheeler had always wanted to host a pub quiz and jumped at the chance to helm a night of entertainment at partner business Greenlake Bar and Grill. From there, she was invited to host at Eastlake as well, under the banner Think and Drink Trivia. Garnering enough success since last December, a successful year has left her in charge of the newly christened Wheeler Trivia, which is now more or less syndicated across Neighborhood Grills. Amanda says she loves what she does, but has no plans to branch her hosting skills outside of the chain.

Special Features: A picture round occurs between the second and third round, rewarding the team who does best with a secondary prize of more Neighborhood Grills gift certificates. Some of the round was dedicated to the night's "Famous Television Couples" theme, but most of it was just a free-form picture flood of everything from David Hasselhoff's yearbook picture to a picture of a jackalope. It's a messy round, which is usually a good break from more rigidly structured trivia nights -- however, since the rest of the quiz is just as scattershot, the round more or less washed over everyone while the bulk of the teams went out for a cigarette.

The Verdict: Trivia at the Eastlake Bar and Grill has its moments, but as of now, it's pretty shallow. Amanda may have her questions replicated all over the Greater Seattle area via Neighborhood Grills, but the skeptic in me can't help but believe that exhibiting quizzes without having the creator there to accurately gauge feedback is one of the worst things to do to an enterprising new host. In my opinion, what Eastlake Bar and Grill needs is collaboration and time. Wheeler is whip-smart, charismatic and friendly, but needs to spend some more time with her audience to shape her technique.

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