64.9 F

Davis, California

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Final Bistro 33 Pub Quiz to be held tonight

Tonight marks the ending of Bistro 33 Pub Quiz night. The 226 F St. restaurant held the event for the past four years, with over 6,500 questions asked, covering topics such as mottos and slogans, history, literature, pop and internet culture, and sports and science. UC Davis lecturer, talk show host and poet Dr. Andy Jones, who hosted the event, composed all the questions for the life of the weekly event.

Jason Prater, general manager of Bistro 33, said there’s a history of events at the restaurant having a lifespan.

“The co-owner [Matt Haines] likes to keep things vibrant and fresh,” Prater said. “We do have future plans for a trivia night in the future.”

Haines, who is the co-owner of the SRO (Standing Room Only) and Bistro 33 chain of restaurants, plans on remodeling the backroom (“Poetry Room” or banquet room) where the pub quiz and other events were held and turning it into a tavern/pub. He waited to cancel the event until the construction contracts were approved.

Construction for the remodel starts on Oct. 3.

Since the backroom won’t be available for poetry or open mic nights, Prater said the restaurant will probably sponsor bigger name poets to perform on their outside patio. The poetry nights would occur two to three times a year, instead of the usual monthly events.

“We were pleased with the way the pub quiz was,” Prater said. “We hope our relationship with him [Jones] will evolve.”

Jones said Haines chose to cancel the Bistro 33 Pub Quiz, just as he earlier chose to cancel Bistro 33’s participation in the Poetry Night Reading Series and Open Mic because of feeling challenged by the success of nearby restaurants that offer louder and more dynamic places for UC Davis students to drink and dance.

“Because of this challenge, the owners have decided to turn the “Poetry Room” in the back of the historic City Hall building into a 21 and over nightclub area with a dance floor and a DJ station,” Jones wrote in an e-mail. “I’m disappointed that Bistro 33 has abandoned its earlier impressive commitment to the arts and engaging entertainment, canceling first comedy night, and then poetry night, and now its trivia night.”

“Haines told me that one reason the Davis City Council agreed to let the Bistro 33 folks take over this important Davis landmark was his promise to bring cultural events downtown, to give back to the citizenry that entrusted him with the storied property at 3rd and F Streets,” Jones wrote. “I’m sure that the poor economy has contributed to the choice to emphasize food (and especially alcohol) sales over poetry and trivia, especially when SRO, the parent company of the Bistro 33 restaurants, has had to close multiple restaurants in Sacramento.”

“For years the poets who were featured performers by Bistro 33 were amazed to be awarded a free dinner as well as a generous honorarium for performing at Poetry Night at Bistro 33,” Jones wrote. “Perhaps both of these offerings were too good to be true, and perhaps both represented an unsustainable investment for a single restaurant to make in the cultural life of the university and City of Davis communities that benefit from authentic, original and free admission performances downtown.”

Jones said although he feels that this was an unfortunate decision, he was grateful for the opportunity to have met and entertained so many intellectually curious and enthusiastic lovers of poetry, trivia and performance downtown.

In a press release by the restaurant, they quoted bestselling author John Lescroart who said, “I think that the [Bistro 33] Pub Quiz is probably the most fun interactive evening out that one can find in all of Davis. Great, challenging questions, an intelligent and terrific vibe, super food and drinks. An all-around winner.”

The Poetry Night Reading Series has found a new home at the John Natsoulas Gallery on the first and third Thursdays of every month.

ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached at city@theaggie.org.


  1. Where will the Pub Quiz be?


    When I found out the Pub Quiz had ended, I was confused at first. Pub Quiz had become part of my routine.


    To have that routine ended so abruptly has made me feel empty. When I got to Pub Quiz, I was no longer a high school student. I was a member of The Portraits of Muhammad, the most winning team in Pub Quiz history and the only team to get 30 out of 30 questions correct and win five weeks straight.


    But I didn’t go there for the food, and I suspect nobody else did as well. I went because of my team, and because of Dr. Andy. Over the past three years that I have played, I was mentored by Chuck, Keith, Splash, Jaime and John. I also became attached to the stories.


    Between base-jumping all over the world, human rights battles and tiny electric cars, there was plenty of excitement. Each question on items ranging from science to Shakespeare gave me something new to hold on to.


    We also became a family. Before I left for England for the summer, the entire restaurant got up to sing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” It was one of my happiest moments.


    Dr. Andy, with all of his charisma, knowledge, wit and intellectual curiosity, has been the heart and soul of the Pub Quiz. He united the entire town and put their knowledge to work, students versus professors and friends versus friends. He is a role model to Davis and to me, personally.


    The first ring of his cowbell quieted the room and lifted their spirits at the same time. It was the sign of things to come. Of revelry and knowledge, of Fat Tire and buffalo wings, and of friendly competition and karaoke, the Bistro 33 Pub Quiz personified Davis best and to have it end disappoints me.

    It’s time for the next edition, Dr. Andy. There is no Pub Quiz without you, and I, along with the rest of POM and everyone else, am ready to follow you wherever you decide to go.

    I look forward to the next edition.


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