COVER STORY

Quiz Show

Meet teams on their quest to be the best — or at least make a little drinking money

Will Murphy (from left), Chris Folds, Peter Thomas and Mitch Nichols at Carmine's Pie House.
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Lindsey Taggart (from left), Linda Taggart, Tim Taggart, Chris Henry, Nikki Smith and Derek Reeves at Hooters on the South side.
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Blake Smith (from left), Kathy Mills, Tom Mills, Steve Zawacki, Nancy Boerem, Jonathan Vaughan and Glenn Holeves 
at Bogey Grill.
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Ty King (from left), Jack Mast, Chuck Coleman, Jack Csenge, John Halley, James Touhy, Chase Coleman and Brad Ginzig at Landshark Cafe at Jax Beach.
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Bill Bovee (from left), Larry Brown and Jacques Corneau at Ale House in Regency.
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Q: What nut contains an edible green center?

A: Pistachio

Q: What is the name of the ice cream that contains layers of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry?

A: Neapolitan

Q: What car rental company's slogan is “We try harder”?

A: Avis

Q: In 1977, what actor/comedian became the first entertainer nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize?

A: Jerry Lewis

Q: Which NFL team was the first to win three Super Bowls?

A: Pittsburgh Steelers

Everyone on the team stared at Tim Taggart. The trivia question was right up his alley. On what album did the Led Zeppelin song with these lyrics appear? “I don't know but I been told, a big-legged woman ain’t got no soul.” Linda Taggart passed the answer sheet and pencil to her husband with confidence. As the host announced the answer — 1971’s “Led Zeppelin IV” — the team clapped in acclamation as Tim Taggart beamed.

The Taggart family plays trivia Thursday nights at Hooters on Southside Boulevard. They have moved around from restaurant to restaurant hunting for the perfect venue for their favorite family pastime. Some places are too loud; others simply have bad food.

The team’s youngest member — and literature and music specialist — is University of North Florida senior Lindsey Taggart.

“Trivia equals family time,” Lindsey said. “It's the only way to get us all together to hangout.”

Science nerds, history buffs, sports gurus and pop culture pundits regularly gather at local restaurants or bars to test their trivia knowledge. Information that some, or even most, might find trifling, these players access in an effort to answer any question asked by their hosts. Some want to prove they are the smartest people in the room; others have their eye on cash prizes to cover their hefty bar tabs after hours of drinking.

Live trivia was introduced to the restaurant and bar scene in the United States in the late 1980s in Atlanta. According to Trivia Nation owner Steve Howard, by the ’90s, the trivia scene had made its way to Northeast Florida. In 2004, Howard purchased a company now called Trivia Nation. With more 40 employees, Trivia Nation provides service to more than 100 locations in eight cities spanning from Savannah to South Florida. Some clients include Mellow Mushroom franchises, Dick’s Wings locations and the Miller’s Ale Houses.

Howard said he doesn’t sell trivia to restaurants; he sells return on investment. Restaurants and bars pay a fee to hold trivia at their locations, typically on slower business nights, and, in turn, trivia typically brings in players and boosts sales.

“The key to our success is the quality of the player that we have,” Howard said. “Our player spends more and tips more than the average restaurant patron.”

“It brings in a lot of people,” said Randy Graf, manager at Gator's Dockside in Baymeadows, which holds trivia on Thursdays. “We are full all night from 7 to 9 o’clock.”

Graf said that more than 100 people come in to play.

Gary Longmire has been hosting for Trivia Nation for a few years and has strong connections with his players.

”I’ll be out places around town and hear people say, ‘Hey, it’s Trivia Gary,’ ” Longmire said. “It’s crazy, I have run into my trivia players in Savannah, Ga., and even in the Bahamas.”

In addition to Trivia Nation, Greg Swim and his wife have been hosting trivia locally for their own business, Who Knows Trivia, for three years. They set up at two locations, Viva Mexican Restaurant on the Northside and Applebee’s on the Westside, and have regulars who play at both of them.

“I really enjoy hosting,” Swim said. “I go out there every week because I enjoy it. There are 20-something regular groups that come in every week to play that really make it fun. I’m not currently looking to expand. I like doing what I am doing.”

Will Murphy and friends make up the trivia team “Bring Out the Gimp” that plays at Carmine’s Pie House on Monday nights.

“What I like about it is, it breaks up the monotony of the work week,” Murphy said. “Obviously, there's the competitiveness of it, but we are really just sitting down over some pizza and beers and catching up with everybody.”

Howard hopes to continue to expand his franchise and one day be nationwide.

“My goal is to be in 5,000 accounts in five years,” Howard said. “Obviously, that would be a national expansion. At this point, I'm figuring out the best way to do that.”

Howard is not trekking uncharted territory. The company Team Trivia began expansion in the mid-2000s and now has more than 300 locations, spanning from Wisconsin to Arizona to Central Florida. The company has no accounts in Northeast Florida.

“We want to provide a fun, friendly atmosphere,” Howard said. “The goal is to entertain guests, bringing in more players every time, and raising my clients' sales in the process. With that, everyone wins.” 


 

 

 

I’VE BEEN SEQUESTERED

Members: Tim Taggart specializes in questions regarding cartoons, comics and music. His wife, Linda Taggart, has expertise in spelling and TV questions. Lindsey Taggart is acquainted with plays, musicals and literature, while Chris Henry knows history and U.S. government. Teammate Traci Henry is good with movies and current music, and Nikki Smith knows state capitals, toys and games. Derek Reeves is an expert on current events and hodgepodge questions.

Origin of name: The Taggart family changes their name weekly to fit current events/happenings.

How they started: “We started because one of my friends asked us to play with him,” Lindsey Taggart said. “We have been playing ever since.”

Playing together: Three years.

How often: Weekly.

Where: Wednesdays and Saturdays at Dick's Wings in Lakewood, Thursdays at Hooters on Southside Boulevard and Sundays at Grotto Wine Bar in San Marco.

Why: They view trivia time as family time when they can spend time together.

Results: Often finishes in the money (first, second or third place).

 

BIRD BRAINS

Members: Nancy Borem is a science and geography buff. Jonathan Vaughan, originally from Hong Kong, was a two-time “Jeopardy” champion in 1987. Additionally, the team includes Blake Smith, well-versed in movies and sports; Glenn Holeves, the go-to guy for history; and Kathy and Tom Mills. Tom Mills is a music fanatic, and Kathy Mills a television guru. “We have success because we all have our own area of specialty,” Mills said. “Between Glenn and me, we have never missed a government-related question.”

Origin of name: The name is fitting, considering a number of the team members either graduated from or currently work for the University of North Florida, whose mascot is the ever-fierce Osprey.

How they started: Borem gathered this group of friends and colleagues and put the team together.

Playing together: Borem formed this star-studded team five years ago.

How often they play: Weekly, sometimes twice a week.

Where: Thursdays at Bogey Grill in Ponte Vedra Beach, and sometimes other area restaurants.

Why: “We like coming up here and competing,” Tom Mills said. “It's a nice place for us to get together and have a good time.”

Results: Winning comes often for Bird Brains. A few years back, they pocketed $1,000 at a citywide trivia event. Bird Brains has left many opposing trivia teams in its wake, more often than not finishing in first or second place. Though few chinks can be found in Bird Brains’ armor, this team of middle-aged men and women is a tad weak in one area: pop culture. “Those are the questions that we usually miss or struggle with,” Tom Mills said.

  

BRING OUT THE GIMP

Also, festive aliases such as “How the Gimp Stole Christmas” and “Happy Thanksgimping.” 

Members: Chris Folds’ best trivia subject is sports, particularly football and golf. He’s also well-informed on American history and knows his presidents. Peter Thomas is another history buff, who has a knack for correctly answering Civil War questions. When it comes to geography questions, the team relies on Mark Hulsey's recall. “No one knows why,” Folds joked, “but Hulsey always gets the geography questions right.” Then there's Mitch Nichols. A Kentucky basketball fanatic, Nichols’ best subjects are sports and television. Joe Daraskevich is the baseball historian; he's also got a knack for knowing the answer to movie questions that no one else knows.

Origin of name: “We got a team name from a rather infamous line from the movie ‘Pulp Fiction,’ ” Folds said. “No other reason, except we like the movie and thought it would be funny for the trivia host to have to say that phrase.”

How they started: “We wandered in for dinner one night when trivia was going on,” Folds said. “We decided ‘what the hell,’ and the three of us played and won. We have been going ever since.”

Playing together: Two years.

How often: Weekly. In two years of playing together, this dedicated squad has missed just a few Mondays: once for a team member's bachelor party and twice to catch their beloved Jaguars’ Monday Night Football games.

Where: Mondays at Carmine’s Pie House in Riverside.

Why: “Since we've been playing, there have been a lot of changes in our lives, but every Monday we know what we are doing,” Folds said. “It’s a constant and something we look forward to every week.”

Results: Bring Out the Gimp often places in the top three and has won a total of seven times, not that they’re counting.

  

RICE’S RAMPAGE

Members: Team member and Florida State alum Bradley “Newt” Ginzig specializes in politics, history and current events. Jack Mast is a music and pop culture buff. Ty Johnson is the science buff. James Touhy is the team’s sports pundit. Chase Coleman is knowledgeable in ballet and musicals. Chuck Coleman is the go-to guy for business-related questions. John Halley is an economic guru. Aries Botas is a technology and hardware expert.

Origin of name: Formerly known as "The Kids," Rice’s Rampage likes to change their name each night, basing it on current events.

How they started: The members played some in high school with various teams. They started playing again when asked by a trivia host at their favorite bar.

How long: On-and-off for about six years. More consistently over the past two years.

How often: Every couple of weeks.

Where: Wednesdays at Culhane's Irish Pub in Atlantic Beach and Thursdays at LandShark Café in Jacksonville Beach.

Why: “We don't get together every week and play,” Ginzig said. “But when we have time to, it's a great way to blow off some steam.”

Results: Finishes in the top three every other time or so that they play.

 

 

 

HELL, I DON’T KNOW

Members: This Regency-area trivia team is made up of four friends: Ryan Heal, who specializes in a little bit of everything (“I like to say I know everything and nothing”); Bill Bovee, who is the team’s sports authority; Jacques Corneau, the history consultant; and Larry Brown, who's said to be the team’s sage and the geography ace.

Origin of name: Formerly known as Crusaders, the members of Hell, I Don't Know change the team name from time to time based on their moods.

How they started: The team started playing while out for Brown’s birthday. According to Corneau, trivia was being played, and they decided to give it a shot.

Playing together: Two years.

How often: Weekly.

Where: Wednesdays at Miller’s Ale House in Regency. 

Why: "We play for the fun and for the laughs," Corneau said.

Results: Hell, I Don't Know has won once and placed in the money a few times. 

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