With origins in New England, USA from 1680-1730, bistro tables were only made by a few select village table manufacturers in Connecticut. It is this scarcity that makes them very difficult to find as antiques. In the modern day, however, whether you are aware of the name or not, bistro tables are everywhere, from fast food restaurants to cafes to cinemas to malls, all the way to nightclubs, pubs and bars. The style of the bistro tables might change depending on their location, but the fact that it is a bistro table does not. I must confess, a few years ago I had no idea what exactly bistro tables were, let alone where the name comes from. Some say it comes from a Russian root – bistro meaning 'quickly' (a proposition which completely baffles and enrages many a french person), while others suggest an old french root bistrouille or the like. What's certain is the precise name is quite obscure despite the fact that we see them so often in everyday life. It's almost like a furniture equivalent of not being able to identify a plasma TV!
Bistro tables are generally referred to as small tables, most often round, with one leg, though not always. Confusing, I know. The most common bistro table constitutes a small rounded top, with one thick leg and small four 'feet' (or 'mini legs') sticking out. Alternatively, the large leg can give way to a round bottom in order to eliminate the need for any 'feet'. Some more modern bistro tables have a round metal footrest just above the base, while more traditional tables have four wooden legs instead of one, often curved and decorated elegantly. Some tables even have square tops, though these are not nearly as common as the round variety.
The popularity of bistro tables has risen in line with the establishment of public gatherings: there was a dire need of a table which could accommodate more 'quick' dining as opposed to the traditional family meal, for which of course the conventional dining table was used . Pubs and shops have grown more popular as humanity has undergone a vast population explosion, and with it came a surge to gather, to fit more customers into a smaller space. The fact that overcrowding was an issue in many villages, towns and later cities, required the residents to adopt a new way of thinking, in order to live together peacefully and in a civil manner. Pubs in particular were prime locations for a new type of furniture which could be stacked many times over within the same establishment, and house many eager customers. Dining tables are just not appropriate for cafes or shops. Pubs, and later on nightclubs, have posted meteoric rises, and town centers have been developed from what was once just a primitive village.
Nowadays, the countless sizes, styles and colors of bistro tables are testament to their ongoing popularity: from glass, to pewter, to iron, to aluminum, in addition to the traditional wood, this variety of table now utilizes all that humanity has to offer in the manufacturing sector, simply because the demand is there and is still growing. A quick search on the internet will reveal countless varieties, all unique in different aspects, all fitting a slightly different environment. Some tables are classic, wooden and elegant, suitable for older residences, while others are modern, suitable for a newly built home or mall. Whatever the case may be, whether you know the name or not, bistro tables are here to stay.