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Blue Atlas focuses on globally inspired dishes which are meant to be shared with friends and family as is the tradition in many cultures around the world. The restaurant is a marriage between Rachel’s world travels and Ben’s classical training. We want to honor tradition and offer a contemporary twist while maintaining a sense of humility and respect for our ingredients.

With the changing global environment we believe that vegetables at the center of the plate is a more sustainable practice and will be the future of dining. Our mission is to showcase the diversity of our products by highlighting the ingredients in differing cultures across the globe. 

With health and wellness as one of our core values we also strive to provide a clean-eating experience. We truly believe that we are what we eat and if we focus our efforts on promoting the health of the people it will reflect on the health of the world.


Rachel Best

Owner-Director of Operation

Rachel began cooking in restaurants while earning her degree in International Affairs at the University of Colorado.  After graduating, she worked with farmers in Cameroon, Africa for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Upon returning to Colorado, she continued to work in kitchens and became the chef of Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant.  

After getting married, Rachel returned to her hometown, Richmond, to be closer to family.  Five years later, Rachel and Ben opened Blue Atlas and when not at work, she enjoys spending her time outside with her son.

Ben Watters


A native of Wisconsin, Ben moved to Colorado for a change in pace.  He began working in kitchens and spent many years at Brasserie 1010 learning French cuisine.  He continued to develop his skills while staging in Chicago at Grant Achatz restaurant, Next, and working at other fine dining restaurants in Colorado.  After moving to Richmond with his new wife, Ben worked at Lemaire, Brenner Pass, and Aloi before opening Blue Atlas with Rachel.

Abby Coates

General Manager

Abby grew up in a small town in rural Illinois where food and family were always a main focus. Abby began serving their community in grade school as they helped their Grandfather volunteer in local soup kitchens. After moving to Richmond to attend Virginia Commonwealth University, they began working as a kitchen manager that cemented their passion for restaurants and hospitality. 

After 8 years in corporate restaurant management, Abby found themselves looking for an opportunity that felt more like home. In 2022 they joined the Blue Atlas team as the Assistant Manager and quickly moved their way up to General Manager. 

Today, Abby is enjoying hosting special events, learning new ways to elevate hospitality, and connecting with the community once again. 

Derek Nielsen

Beverage Director-Sommelier

Derek grew up in the Hamptons where he began developing his passion for the hospitality industry while working at various restaurants. His passion was quickly recognized and climbed the ranks from bartender to Beverage Director at Sen in Long Island. He continued his growth and moved on to manage restaurants in New York City and Montauk. 

In 2018, Derek relocated to Richmond with his family to open Organic Crush. He soon began to miss the traditional family owned business atmosphere and joined the Blue Atlas team where he wears many hats including in house gardener and handyman in addition to overseeing the bar program.

Sarah Clampett

Social Media Director

Originally from New Mexico and raised in North Carolina, Sarah has been in restaurants for over a decade. She got her start as a server while completing her degree in Graphic Design at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. 

After graduating in 2014, Sarah worked in restaurants around the Richmond area honing her skills in hospitality and restaurant management. Sarah has been with Blue Atlas since it opened and has worked many roles.  Currently, she manages the restaurant’s social media and website design.

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