Shauna Proctor travelled a long road to become a business owner in a field that she loves.
The owner of The Gallery Art Bistro in Port Rowan has always been interested in music and visual arts, but had a winding journey to owning a business in Norfolk County.
Proctor went to Sheridan College for a year when she was 18 years old to study art. During this time she was trying to figure out how to make a living and ended up working with her father, an entrepreneur with A&W restaurants.
After deciding the restaurant business wasn’t for her, Proctor went back to school for paramedicine. Ten years as a paramedic in Mississauga ended in a workplace injury, a back surgery, and a trip back to school.
Proctor worked on her Bachelor of Business Administration for two years at Laurier University, and then three years of marketing at Conestoga College.
She then shifted to the corporate world where she worked on sales and marketing for a company in Cambridge, Ontario.
At the end of her journey in the corporate world Proctor decided to begin painting full time and sell her pieces at local markets.
Around this time in 2016 is when she decided to buy the property in Port Rowan to open The Gallery Art Bistro.
“Using my marketing and business skills I could marry the art and music and figure out how to make a living doing what I love,” said Proctor.
The Gallery Art Bistro is an art gallery and entertainment venue with the goals of supporting the arts and local artists.
“Getting used to being part of a smaller community, living and working in the community is very different from what I’m used to,” said the Cambridge native. “They should have a class on moving to a small town.”
After 18 months of renovations in the building, the business had a soft grand opening on January 25. The official summer grand opening was held in the beginning of the season.
“Right now we’re just morphing our hours, product lines, and what we offer based on our new customers,” said Proctor.
Proctor said that the general feedback from the locals has been overwhelming and positive.
“They love space, they all say it’s very comfortable and welcoming,” said Proctor. “We have open mic night, karaoke nights, and live entertainment. People say that they really enjoy the atmosphere.”
When you enter the bistro you are greeted with a coffee bar, a regular bar, along with paintings and other pieces of art displayed throughout. In the second room there is a stage for live entertainment along with extra seating space and more artwork.
The paintings and artwork displayed are all for sale and created by Proctor and other local artists. The bar also features local products from Hometown Brew Co., Hounds of Erie, and Burning Kiln Winery.
Proctor is currently looking for people interested in hosting events in her space during the winter months. The event space can comfortably sit between 15 and 20 people. She will rent the space for free to someone that can fill their occupancy and will ensure both the bar and coffee bar are open.
The schedule for open mic nights, karaoke, and live entertainment is available on the bistro’s Facebook page.