From Restaurant Patio Dining to Third-Party Delivery Apps: What is Hybrid Dining?

Discovering new ways to serve customers has been the key during these unprecedented times. Hybrid dining is an excellent way to extend your reach during and after the pandemic.

First, what is hybrid dining?

Hybrid dining involves using different restaurant strategies to meet the ever-changing customer needs of a diverse customer base. Hybrid restaurants might implement elements of fast casual and fine dining. They may provide delivery as well as indoor and outdoor dining options. The idea is to provide mix-and-match options for a customizable customer experience

Why should my Restaurant implement a Hybrid Dining Model?

Food restaurants are all breaking up their regular routines in order to reach more customers right now. Why choose a hybrid dining model? 

First and foremost, current off-premise dining statistics are staggering.

  • 52% of adults said that purchasing takeout or delivery is “essential” to their lifestyle
  • In QSRs, off-premise dining represents 73% of sales
  • For fast-casual restaurants, off-premise dining comprises 51% of sales
  • In coffee and snack outlets, off-premise dining consists of 77% of sales

Off-premise dining is not a passing fad. Restaurants should find ways to offer food at home and outdoors.

You might provide takeout, online ordering, parking lot pickup, direct delivery, or a delivery through a third-party app – or some combination of the above. 

Here are some other reasons why all restaurants should be striving for a hybrid dining model:

  • When seeking food from a sit-down restaurant, 8 out of 10 customers still say they would “prefer” to dine in and have the traditional restaurant experience when possible. That proves that having a hybrid model is essential, rather than converting completely to a takeout/delivery model.
  • According to QSR Magazine, brands that implement a hybrid approach, using both self-managed fleets and third-party delivery providers, have the highest customer and employee satisfaction rates.
  • You can appeal to new customer groups while still maintaining your core customers who love what you already do.

Master the latest culinary techniques or learn how to adapt successfully to a food delivery business model through our online & free Chef courses.

How to Go Hybrid with Patio Dining and More

With all of the social distancing regulations, many of us aren’t able to accommodate the same volume of patrons, and we’re paying for it.

In addition to providing takeout and delivery options, designing a little outdoor restaurant is a smart way to put up more visitors. 

  • Want to start delivery or open up more outdoor seating? Restaurant rules and regulations may vary. Before you embark on your hybrid dining experience, here are a few things you need to know.

    Research Outdoor Restaurant Regulations

     If you would like to offer parking lot or patio dining, check up on local, state and federal regulations.

     Address regulations regarding things like smoking, alcohol, BYOB, adding electric and plumbing, noise ordinances, dog-friendliness, etc.

     Acquire any necessary dining permits and sidewalk licensing fees. Fortunately, restrictions have been relaxed during   COVID.

     Restaurants are being given more room to develop outdoor dining areas into sidewalks and streets. Liquor laws have also   been relaxed.

    Make Some Outdoor Counter Space

     It is possible to transform a counter or window into a takeout spot where folks can order online and quickly pickup – inside or outside. Alternatively, you could designate a couple of parking spaces   and have staff bring meals to customer cars.

    Look into Third-Party Delivery Apps

     If you don’t offer delivery already, it’s time to find out which delivery method will be most effective for your restaurant. 

     Talk to restaurants in your neighborhood about which third-party apps they use and are happy with. You can also do your own research. Maybe start with this article about the 5 best third-party delivery apps.

How to Get Started on Your Outdoor Dining Setting

Remember, now is a great time to introduce outdoor restaurant options. We should all take advantage of relaxed COVID permitting. The reason the laws are relaxed is to help your business thrive.

  1. Don’t feel the need to start an enormous project. Don’t build a new deck right off the bat. Try adding a couple of outdoor tables and see how things go. 
  2. Invest wisely in your outdoor décor. Take the time necessary to find affordable pieces that complement your outdoor space. Beautify it over time. Make sure all of your pieces are weather-resistant. Your décor doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive – simple things like classical music or potted foliage can enhance the ambiance.
  3. Arrange your outdoor seating in a way that does not interfere with service. More seating is not always better, especially in the first weeks of moving outdoors.
  4. Scale your food menu down to house favourites, and then slowly add menu items over time. Choose those items you can execute with a limited staff, and which can be delivered in various weather conditions.
  5. Advertise your new business! Post photos of your new spaces and menus on your social media profiles, and lean on neighborhood resources such as local forums, businesses and radio stations to spread the word.

Want to get a little more creative? Get some more outdoor restaurant ideas in our free download: 3 Innovative & Successful Outdoor Dining Setting Methods.

To learn more about starting and growing your outdoor dining space, check out this article from Architecture Art Designs or this one from

Outdoor Hybrid Restaurant Design Tips

Will your restaurant be venturing into the great outdoors? Here are some fun ways to implement outdoor dining setting methods or restaurant patio dining.

  1. Transform part of the patio into a lounge with fire pits and couches
  2. Host live music or open mic nights
  3. Create an outdoor bar station
  4. If you have the space, do some outdoor patio cooking – think pizza ovens or grilling
  5. Equip the patio with heaters to extend your outdoor dining season
  6. Set up shady spots with umbrellas and deck covers
  7. Install fans along the roof line to keep guests cool
  8. Stay diligent in cleaning, especially spills, before they attract bugs and other pests

For more fantastic outdoor dining tips, check out this article from Webstaurant Store.

Get inspired by Top Hybrid Restaurants Globally

The potential of hybrid restaurants is limitless. You can glean more inspiration from these top hybrid restaurants all over the world.

  1. Iron Maid Café in Japan: At the popup Iron Maid Café, you can order a coffee and drop of some shirts for ironing. Maids at the café iron the shirts for $8 or take your measurements for $10.
  2. De Kas in Amsterdam: This unusual restaurant serves food the very same day that it is picked from the vine, bush, tree or the ground. The eatery is surrounded by lush herb and veggie gardens, taking freshness to the next level. 
  3. Heritage Bicycles in Chicago: This general store is one of three bicycle shops that offers both a charming coffee café atmosphere and a classic bike retail space. 
  4. Pasticceria Marchesi: This luxury pastry shop sells both couture pastries and high-end Prada fashion. It features traditional Italian design paired with upscale breakfasts, lunch and appetizers.

Even Taco Bell is starting to sell t-shirts in its newest units. The more uses you can find for your restaurant, the better.

What new ideas do you have for hybridizing your restaurant? 

Chef Inspiration