The Life and Times of Bistro Furniture

Gone are the days when pub and bistro tables were confined to restaurants and recreational areas. If you are keen on home remodeling projects, you may have come across such furniture set up on a well-manicured lawn or patio. Pub and bistro tables are also a favorite among people who live in smaller homes and apartments. Modern bistro furniture is not only available in multiple types of materials, but also in a variety of colors to light up the space where you’re using them. They’ve come a long way from their meager beginnings across the pond.

What is bistro furniture?

This type of furniture first came about in the 19th Century and was meant to be used in a bistro, a small and intimate café or restaurant. Bistro tables and chairs could typically seat two or three people, reflecting the smaller size of the café. Materials such as wood, aluminum, wrought iron and plastic have been used to make bistro tables and chairs over the years. Today, some bistro table tops are even made of mosaic tiles or colored glass to complement their surroundings.

Pub and bistro tables come in varying heights. Pub tables are taller, usually from 36-42 inches, and reserved for drinks and a small-sized appetizer dish. Bistro furniture, on the other hand, is suitable for everyday use as its height is equivalent to that of a dining table.

History of pub and bistro tables

While some think that the name ‘bistro’ was coined from Russian soldiers who shouted ‘bystra’ or “bring my food quickly” during the Napoleonic war, others contend it was derived from ‘bistreau’, an ancient French word referring to an innkeeper.

The origin of the bistro can be traced back to the early 1800s when they began to spring up in France as families and small taverns sought to supplement their income by providing food and wine to strangers. Apart from supplementing their income, bistros were ideal as the small tables and chairs situated on sidewalks outside the café could easily be folded away, thereby sparing café owners from having to pay for a fixed terrace.

Bistro furniture was quite common in Europe but only made it over to America after the Civil War. Some of the first bistros were introduced in New York due to the significant presence of European settlers and visitors. Bistro tables were crafted in such a way that the people could easily cross their legs beneath them. They had no lip, and their diameter was about 30 inches. The tables were often accompanied by mesh chairs and a five-foot umbrella for protection from the elements. Over time, the size and use of bistro furniture have evolved. It’s not uncommon to see pub or bistro tables used as the primary dining furniture, decorative corner furniture, or even as a work desk. As they are truly meant to live outdoors, people today often use them on their decks and porches for entertaining.