Did The Word Bistro Come From The Russian Language?

Did The Word Bistro Come From The Russian Language?

Everyone knows and loves French bistros as we all know them for the lifestyle and food culture of the great European nation. The small restaurants with their most picturesque outdoor gardens invite you to rest, eat, drink and linger. In France, they are part of the French art of living. They have long since achieved the same status as restaurants. These places of food have spread there rapidly since the 1950s. After that, their numbers reached a staggering 200,000 across the country. However, economic crises have significantly reduced their number. Most recently, there were around 30,000 restaurants in France. According to a well-known legend, the Russians are responsible for the designation of the restaurants as bistro.

Slow Waiters

History refers to the year 1814 when Russian troops pursued the army of Napoleon as far as France. When they arrived in Paris, the officers ate in the numerous cafes and restaurants. But they did not like the slowness of the French waiters at all. They appreciate the simple and inexpensive dishes and drinks, but they didn’t like the pace at all. Legend has it that the soldiers are said to have yelled at the waiters several times in Russian. They used the Russian word for fast. That sounds just like bistro. That is supposed to be the origin of the name for this type of restaurant. The word for it is said to have entered the French language in a row. Since then, we use the phrase bistro for a restaurant with fast service.

Officers All Spoke French

In 1964, the tourist information centre of the Old Montmartre in Paris even put up a notice to that effect. At house number 6 on the Place du Tertre, the Bort Bistro was used here for the first time in its current meaning. But what sounds so great is just a legend. After all, the facts speak against it. First of all, there is the language. Russian officers didn’t have to yell at waiters in Russian in 1814. They all spoke French, which was a must in Russia at the time. The officers were all aristocrats; they spoke French fluently.

Officers All Spoke French
Officers All Spoke French

The Russians cannot have called Bistro because this appeared at the end of the 19th century. Scientists believe that the term came to Europe after the end of the Franco-Prussian War. Even then, the word had another meaning. Therefore, the specialists of linguistics assume that the story of the Russian officers is just a legend. They are sure that the word of ‘bistro’ comes from everyday language. There are similar words in northern France from which people derived bistro ultimately. Bistraud originally meant servant and later wine merchant. The experts, therefore, believe that Bistro has its origins there. The Russian version sounds better, but it is not particular and consequently made up. However you evaluate this, the fact is that the Bistros created a cultural heritage.

Differences Between Bistro and Restaurant: Dinner Types

Differences Between Bistro and Restaurant: Dinner Types

A lot of people call all catering places just cafes or restaurants. After all, there is an obvious difference, defined by the price of food, atmosphere, interior, choice of dishes, eating culture, and even clothes. However, every educated person should be aware of certain differences and describe the catering places correctly. So, how to not get lost between terms of a restaurant, a café, and a bistro?

Daily Food: Fast, Faster, and Fastest

The places of fast casual or fast everyday food concept is an intermediate option between fast food places that can also be called fast food restaurants like McDonald’s or KFC, and between casual dining / casual eating places like cozy family restaurants. Confused, right? Actually, it is pretty easy. When you visit a few different places, the hierarchy of just a few steps makes everything very simple and clear.

Fast Food Restaurants

The goal of fast-food places is to prepare food easily and deliver it to customers quickly. At fast food places people are not served at tables, you need to order food yourself at the service box or bar, and the price of meals should not be expensive. There is no fancy interior in such places, most customers do not get any cutlery, and all plates and glasses are made of paper or plastic and used only once. Often, such places offer the possibility to order food while sitting in the car. Usually, food in such places is associated with the term junk food, as a result, it is unhealthy food. While this is not the rule, it is usually true. The menu includes all kinds of burgers, fried chicken, fries, chicken nuggets, tortillas, kebabs, or pizza. Usually, such places have no alcohol drinks or just light beer.

Fast Casual Food Restaurants/ Bistro

Such restaurants arose from the need to eat fast but healthier. While healthy food is not the rule of the fast casual concept, this type of places avoids unhealthy foods. Here you can expect the higher quality ingredients. So, the food will have better quality, it will be healthier and a little more expensive. This type of restaurant also usually does not offer table service. Another difference is the environment. Here, more attention is paid to the interior. The rule of giving food to the guest as soon as possible also applies. Fast casual food places include daily lunch restaurants, and they are popular in large shopping malls.

Fine Dining/ Real Restaurant

This level is the highest to this day. In this type of restaurant, you must get the complete satisfaction with the food and the environment or in other words, dinner here will be the new experiences. From the first greeting until the last moment, all the details make a unique atmosphere. Here you will find impeccable service, top quality food, a great and wide selection of drinks. The furniture and plates are high quality, artistic, and complement the interior. As a result, the price of such a dinner will be high, but you must understand, that it is not just food – it is an experience.

Fine Dining Real Restaurant
Fine Dining/ Real Restaurant

What is Bistro Branding?

A brand is everything if you want to be able to sell a product or service and make any money at all. The better the brand, the bigger the pay. This is the reason why people and companies spend a fortune on branding and marketing of their product. In the bistro business, the branding tells the customer what they can expect from coming to the Bistro. The personality of the place is evident in the brand. It gives the audience a sense of strong visual and emotional ideas of what they can expect. There are several areas of the business where the brand can extend to. The interiors of the Bistro, the marketing and sales material and the overall projection of the brand can be used to project the Bistro.

The Influential Part

The brand can provide a cue into the overall experience that the customer will have at the place. The dining experience and the kind of food served at the location. The main idea becomes a promise through the brand’s exposure to the public. The entire visual aspect of the brand promises the audience and customer style, uniqueness and strengths. The image styling, the colours, the logo design and fonts used play an overall part of the branding.

Application of the Brand

Being able to eat at a Bistro is a sensory experience. There is a range of elements to be considered to influence the customer. Visual, sound, and taste play an essential part in influencing the audience and in turn, speaks of the brand. Yes, the choice of music that is performed in the Bistro is equally crucial. What is played on television screens are also necessary and speak about the brand. The take out-boxes, the website, the menu and other material that is used in the Bistro will carry a long way in taking the brand out to people and growing the business. In fact, even the way the food is plated is vital to ensure brand growth.

Bistro Brand Development

As a bistro, it is crucial to ensure that the personality of the place is taken into account while deciding on the brand. The brand is the identity of the Bistro and is very important to be coined even before the business is opened up. It is not a viable option to start up a bistro and then decide how you would brand it, as the costs and implication of doing this can hurt the business substantially. Attracting people to the Bistro by providing a sport on branding application from the time you decide to launch a bistro, can aid in propelling it forward. Customers will remember the brand and the business if everything is in line and looked after in detail. It is said that the bistro industry has to make money within its first three years before there is a need to change things up. Therefore, being wise and nailing all brand aspects from the get-go before planning a revamp and change-up after a few years will help take the business to great heights. 

Bistros Throughout History

Seeing as a small venue selling alcohol and rustic, home-cooked local foods is a fairly wide concept, it’s almost impossible to say when the first bistro ever opened. However, if we remember that the term was first defined in late 19th century Paris, then we can get a little closer to finding the source of the matter. Certainly, the first true bistro could have been no later than 1765. According to popular knowledge this was the year that the first resteraunt in Paris was opened by a soup vendor called Monsieur Boulanger. Before he opened up his shop, selling thick local broths and hearty bread, most Parisians would buy various foods from street vendors and then eat at home – or on the street.

A Modern Myth

Monsieur Boulanger also hung a sign above his shop proclaiming the restorative properties of his stacked soups “Boulanger débite des restaurants divins” it said – or ‘Boulanger sells the restoratives of the Gods.” This fits with the known etymology of the word resteraunt, which does in fact come from the French for restore or refresh. As the story goes, the first Bistro may have fallen foul of pre revolution French politics. Mr Boulanger added a whole sheep’s foot to one of his meals, and authorities deemed that he had crossed the line from a soup to a stew maker – and that, apparently, was a big deal. It was enough to get the new bistro owner taken to court, where he demonstrated that he did in fact cook the soup-like sauce entirely separately before adding the joint of meat. Don’t ever say the French don’t take their food seriously!

Unfortunately, though, that yarn might be just be as twisty and stinky as an 18th century Parisian back alley. There’s no concrete evidence that Mr Boulanger existed at all, let alone being the man who was taken to court for opening the first bistro. Which is a shame, but regardless – the first bistro did not exist before around that time. So now we know the origins of the first bistro-like resteraunt – but what about the word itself?

Faster, Faster

The word Bistro’s actual roots are not entirely certain, but it may come from a number of French dialect and slang terms including ‘bistraud’ (wine waiter) or ‘bistouille’, which refers to poorly made or stored alcohol. For a long time, it was thought that the word may have came from Russian occupation of Paris during the Napoleonic Wars. Cossack soldiers would frequent these cheap drinking and eating houses and summon the waiter by shouting ‘bistro, bistro’ – which means faster in their native tongue.

Even though this is now disputed by most historians, the term bistro continues to be used to designate a homely, cheap resteraunt in many parts of Russia too – including dozens of such venues in Moscow. Whatever the truth, the concept certainly has long historical associations and its great that people can continue to enjoy traditional French bistros in Paris to this very day.