Every Thursday, Kyle Dasher spends a few hours bantering with customers at Sol Island Bar and Grill about trivia questions.
He sits on a slightly elevated area of the floor in the corner of the restaurant behind a small table, microphone in hand. Sipping a beer, he taps at an iPad, selecting background music and calling out questions on topics ranging from NASCAR numbers to The Wizard of Oz.
Team Trivia, a franchise of live trivia games hosted by businesses across the U.S., has taken up residence at two Athens County businesses: Sol and Eclipse Company Store in The Plains. It will also soon make its debut Uptown at Jackie O’s Brewpub and Public House.
If You Go
What: Sol Team Trivia Night
When: 7:30 p.m., every Thursday
Where: Sol Island Bar and Grill, 700 E. State St.
At the heart of any good trivia night is the host, and there are some definite do's and don’ts to being one that creates a fun and fair playing environment.
Luckily, Dasher has had plenty of practice. He hosts the weekly sessions at both Sol and Eclipse, and, though he will soon leave the Sol position, he’ll take over the new game at Jackie O’s in March.
Dasher first found his talent for trivia hosting while he was working as a bartender at Eclipse. The beer hall started having Team Trivia nights with a different host, but when that person didn’t quite fit the role, Dasher took over the mic.
“It’s become a hit,” he said.
Dasher said he was comfortable hosting from the beginning. The program he uses to generate the questions is user-friendly, and he’s a personable guy who’s comfortable with a microphone. The challenge arises when the trivia night regulars get argumentative.
“I feel like they have no problem coming up to me and telling me when something’s wrong or if I’m being unfair,” Dasher said. “So it can be stressful.”
Arden MacDonald, who graduated from Ohio University in 2017, is training to take over Dasher’s place as trivia host at Sol. She volunteers at WOUB’s radio station and felt that hosting trivia events calls for the same kind of skills.
“Something like this, where I just meet a lot of people, that’s what I want to do,” she said. “I want to network. Connecting with the community.”
MacDonald is mostly excited to start hosting in the next week or two, but she also feels a little nervous. She has picked up a few things while observing Dasher, noting how she will have to carefully check answers and allocate points accordingly.
“There’s regulars that come here, and they have expectations,” she said. “They develop a relationship with (Dasher), so if I underperform, they’re going to compare me to (him).”
Virginia Dykeman and three of her friends are some of those regulars. They go to Eclipse often and have come to Sol nearly every week since it first started hosting trivia night about a year ago. They were even the winners on the first night. Now, they don’t win much, but they still enjoy the game.
“We got third place at Eclipse on Tuesday,” Dykeman said. “But here, not so much, because it gets pretty full and there’s a lot of smarties.”
Dykeman said Dash is a good, funny host. After playing for so many weeks, she and her teammates have developed a kind of friendship with him, bantering back and forth and convincing him to change the music selection when they don’t quite approve.
Dykeman’s trivia team isn’t family. The members are just a group of friends who like coming together to laugh and talk over dinner. They like trivia nights because they give them a reason to do so.
“We don’t so much care if we win, because we come and we have fun and we have a meal together,” Dykeman said. “It’s just our time to connect with each other, and this is just bonus. Icing on the cake.”