Revista Alcance, v. 25, n. 1, pp. 20-37. Abstract: Restaurants that expand through replication face two challenges: the pursuit of exploration and exploitation. On one hand, exploration is linked to the idea of creating new processes and routines i.e. innovation. On the other hand, exploitation is the ability to refine existing processes, i.e. to standardize successful routines. An ambidextrous strategy simultaneously pursues these two capabilities. Companies have two ways to promote ambidexterity. Contextual ambidexterity assumes that the same group can perform both exploration and exploitation. Structural ambidexterity, meanwhile, involves the formal separation of organizational structures dedicated to exploration/exploitation. This study seeks to understand how restaurant chains promote ambidextrous strategies, taking as its point of departure the trade-off between innovation and standardization. A qualitative study was conducted, based on the case study method, analyzing nine restaurant chains in the city of Rio de Janeiro from the perceptions of their strategic managers. This study was able to identify two levels of structural ambidexterity in restaurant chains: natural and deliberate. Similarly, different degrees of engagement were found with the ambidextrous strategy in contextual form: the company management, the restaurant unit, and at individual level, with the employees of the unit.