It’s not too late! Registration is open until March 22. Register Now

Breakout Session / Tuesday / March 21, 2023 / 11:45 AM

Should International Growth be in Your Future?

While many brands put international expansion on hold over the past couple of years, those same companies are once again beginning to explore global opportunities. Experts in this session will discuss how to know when the time is right to go global and share what they’ve learned as they’ve pushed outside their home turfs.


Laura Rea Dickey | CEO | Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants
Laura Rea Dickey currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. Laura has been with the brand since 2009 and most recently served as Chief Information Officer before transitioning to CEO in 2017. As CIO, she implemented a new technology infrastructure for the brand bringing parity and integration to data reporting, information security and all digital sales channels. In her time as CEO, Laura has overseen the expansion of the brand by 28%, opened 15 international locations in 7 countries, and experienced the highest sales day in the brands 81-year history with the past three years being same store sales positive. She has managed the launch of three additional brands, opened a USDA processing plant to ensure the brand’s signature kielbasa artisan sausages are always available to guests and retailers, and optimized the brands menu by 42%. Laura also held a large hand in creating and publishing the brands second cookbook titled; Behind the BBQ: Recipes, Cocktails & Tall Tales from Dickey’s Barbecue Pit.
Blas Escarcega | Director of Franchise Development | Pollo Campero
Blas Escarcega serves as the Director of Franchise Development for Pollo Campero, the world’s largest Central American chicken chain. Escarcega, a Dallas-based restaurant financial executive, spent the bulk of his career guiding those in the restaurant industry to a path of profitability via performance management, strategic planning, accounting and business intelligence. Escarcega held the position of Chief Financial Officer at a beverage distributorship before transitioning to Campero USA, where he first held the position of Corporate Controller for over two years and then Corporate Business Partner and Director of Finance for over 13 years. As Director of Franchise Development, Escarcega leverages his experience and drive to accelerate the Pollo Campero footprint across the country.
Rafik Farouk | Sr. Director of Global Business Development | PF Changs
Rafik Farouk is the senior director of Global Business Development for P.F. Chang’s. In his role with the international Asian culinary brand, he helps guide international growth strategy and oversees expansion of a company that has more than 300 restaurants in 23 countries and U.S. airport locations. Prior to P.F. Chang’s Rafik served as the Senior Director of Development and Operations at Bloomin’ Brands Inc., where he managed the international franchisees’ development and supported of the global operations as part of the Global Development Team. During his tenure with Bloomin’ Brands, he worked to launch the Aussie Grill by Outback, the first fast-casual concept in company history.

Mandy Wolf Detwiler | Managing Editor | Networld Media Group
Mandy Wolf Detwiler is the managing editor at Networld Media Group and the site editor for and She has more than 20 years’ experience covering food, people and places. An award-winning print journalist, she has spent nearly two decades covering the pizza industry. Mandy has been featured on the Food Network and has won numerous awards for her coverage of the restaurant industry.