REVIEW: McCool’s Trivia

McCool's Bar + Kitchen is located in Aggieville. The bar hosts special events like trivia, country music nights and watch parties. (Archive photo by Julia Smith | Collegian Media Group)

Since McCool’s Bar + Kitchen opened, many students avoided it out of loyalty to 785, the old bar that used to occupy the space. There were doubts about McCool’s success, but the bar is picking up momentum, in part because of its special events.

McCool’s hosts a trivia night every Tuesday, “Hot Country Nights” on Thursdays and watch parties for big games. Teams can register for trivia starting at 7 p.m. and the questions begin at 7:30 p.m.

Trivia is laid out in rounds; at the end of the night, teams have the opportunity to wager their points on the last question, which adds to the stakes. A host fields questions and gets the crowd excited about each round. Free drink and meal gift cards are given out to the top teams at the end of the night.

Teams don’t necessarily have a member limit, so competitors can bring their whole friend group and park themselves at a huge table. Teams can choose their own names — people get very creative with these.

Tuesday nights in the ‘Ville are usually buzzing with activity thanks to Singo, a song and bingo game night at Tanner’s Bar & Grill. Tanner’s is so busy that by the time the game starts, swarms of students are left out on the street. McCool’s management was brilliant in choosing Tuesday nights for trivia; they catch all the Singo overflow.

McCool’s is set up perfectly for trivia. Wherever you sit in the bar, you can always see a screen because of how many there are. Pictures, videos and audio play over the TVs. Last Tuesday there was a “Guess the Voice Actor” round, during which they played clips from animated movies. 

The energy during trivia night is electric, with students talking excitedly about the topics. It gets pretty competitive, especially during the last round when teams are deciding how much to wager.

Other restaurants in Manhattan host trivia nights, too, but not every trivia night is created equal. Admittedly, I have been to some that are poorly attended and low-energy. McCool’s trivia night is not the same; last Tuesday was the busiest I’d ever seen it. McCool’s is doing something right.

Students miss 785, but McCool’s may overcome this challenge. If it can lean into special events to drive business and keep feeding off Singo’s overflow, the bar will be in good shape.