CHICAGO – To appeal to customers next year, restaurant operators will use regional and imported menu options and double-sided menus, according to five trends for 2012 outlined by Mintel Menu Insights. The five trends are:

American regionalism – Consumers are becoming more aware of regional specialties such as Kansas City or Memphis barbecue or New England chowder.

Double-sided menus – The trend will illustrate that consumers want choices. Menus will continue to feature indulgent options, but they will be balanced with healthier, better-for-you options. Menus also will contain both premium and value-pricing items. “Operators understand it’s not either-or, it’s both,” Mintel said.

Consumer control – Consumers want the ability to control their dining experience. Customized ordering systems will continue to proliferate as will flexibility in menu design.

Slow it down – Fast-food restaurants will turn to preparation methods that take more time. “Handmade” and “home-style’ will appear on restaurant menus.

Importing ideas – Menu concepts and product testing taking place overseas will make their way to America. An example is Chicken McBites. McDonald’s originally began serving the miniature fried chicken dish in Australia and now the dish is coming to America.