Belhaven’s Spoon River owners named Chamber’s Entrepreneurs of the Year

Published 12:38 pm Monday, February 5, 2018


When Teresa Van Staalduinen was growing up in Washington, she’d sneak into the then-dilapidated Turnage Theatre and pretend to give an acceptance speech of a major award from its stage. Fast forward a couple of decades and Van Staalduinen was giving that acceptance speech on Jan. 25, as she and husband Mark were named the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce’s Entrepreneurs of the Year.

The Van Staalduinens are the owners of Spoon River Artworks & Market in Belhaven, a popular restaurant known for its farm-to-table approach to dining. Indeed, Mark Van Staalduinen is a farmer, and owner of Terra Ceia Farms. Five years after Spoon River seated its first table of those in search of fine dining, the restaurant is thriving, and putting Belhaven on the map for “foodies.”

“I feel in my heart, that award was not for Spoon River, but for Belhaven. I can’t even express how proud I am of Belhaven, not just for us,” Teresa Van Staalduinen said. “I feel like the county and Washington are really starting to look at Belhaven, and I’m really grateful for that.”

As a nod to the town as a whole, Belhaven Mayor Ricky Credle and the town’s Manager Woody Jarvis attended the Chamber banquet with the Spoon River owners.

While the Van Staalduinens may own a destination dining venue that earned them the Chamber award, they aren’t resting on their laurels.

“We’re about to do a 14,000-square-feet of renovation. It’s technically five storefronts,” Van Staalduinen said.

The expansion comes courtesy of a U.S. Department of Commerce grant and will encompass an event facility, bar space and a North Carolina market of products now featured in the restaurant. The market will also feature bulbs cultivated at Terra Ceia Farms — lily, iris, peony, tulip and many more, she said. The expansion is an expression of Van Staalduinen’s creativity, now funneled into the business.

“My background is art. This restaurant thing, after five years, is still not what I do,” she laughed.

Van Staalduinen chose Belhaven as the home of her artistic-business venture because the downtown buildings spoke to her and one by one became available to her.

“Belhaven, honestly, is 1,600 people, if that, and the people here are so kind, and we’ve got all water around,” Van Staalduinen said. “I couldn’t think of a better place.”

Van Staalduinen said she was grateful to the Chamber for recognizing Belhaven’s contribution to business, and as devoted as she is to the town, she encourages all residents to shop locally, whether in Washington, Aurora, Chocowinity or Bath.

“Belhaven isn’t just Belhaven — we’re part of the bigger picture of Beaufort County,” she said. “Buy Beaufort County. Buy whatever you can from farms, from retail. Buy Beaufort County.”

Spoon River Artworks & Market is located at 263 Pamlico St., Belhaven, and can be reached at 252-945-3899.

More Chamber winners will be covered in future issues of the Washington Daily News.