Couple open ‘dream’ food truck to meet, feed hungry campers at Lake Manitoba Narrows

Tracy Fordham and Daryle Bezemer grew up a lake apart without ever meeting each other, only to fall in love later in life nowhere near their respective upbringings on either side of Lake Manitoba Narrows.

Five years on, they’re back in the area, meeting and feeding people passing through The Narrows, about 175 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

“It’s coming home for both of us really,” says Fordham, who co-owns Channel 204 Grill with Bezemer.

“This is definitely a dream of mine, and I still to this day still keep asking if it’s something he wants to do, because I’ve dragged him along kicking and screaming.”

The couple launched Channel 204 Grill last year, about five years after meeting on a dating app.

A food truck with the words 'Channel 204 Grill' on the side.
The Channel 204 Grill food truck set up east of The Narrows during its opening season in 2023. (Submitted by Tracy Fordham)

Fordham grew up in Ochre River, west of Lake Manitoba, while Bezemer grew up about 10 kilometres from The Narrows. 

Both moved on after they grew up and had full lives before meeting each other — they had past relationships, previous careers, and homes in different parts of southern Manitoba when they connected.

WATCH | Couple’s food truck dreams come true at Lake Manitoba Narrows:

Couple’s food truck dreams come true at Lake Manitoba Narrows

2 days ago

Duration 1:51

Tracy Fordham and Daryle Bezemer are eager to meet and feed people passing through Lake Manitoba Narrows again this May long weekend as the couple reopens their ‘dream’ food truck, Channel 204 Grill, which they launched their last year.

Their bond grew as the COVID-19 pandemic lured them, like many Manitobans, outdoors to explore the province’s many landmarks and campgrounds. They also dined at scores of different food venues, said Bezemer.

“We tried hundreds of restaurants and drive-ins in the last four years, not only to get ideas but just to see how it’s done and to watch people, and these people are making a living by selling their product,” he said.

A bridge is seen over glassy lake surface
The glassy calm surface of Lake Manitoba beneath the bridge at The Narrows in summer 2023. (Submitted by Tracy Fordham)

At one point they revisited The Narrows and were struck by the location as a possible place to set up a food truck.  

“It’s really unknown,” said Fordham. “It really is magical.”

Only a few dozen people call the place home year-round, but the population expands by hundreds due to the droves of hungry campers, cottagers and anglers who show up once the ice melts on Lake Manitoba.

Apart from Narrows Sunset Lodge, which has a restaurant that’s open seasonally, there aren’t many other options to grab a bite in the area, which sees a lot of traffic because it’s the only place you can cross Lake Manitoba by bridge. 

All of that together presented a compelling business opportunity.

A man and woman in orange shirts and black hats working the kitchen of a food truck.
Tracy Fordham and Daryle Bezemer working inside the Channel 204 Grill in 2023. The pair say they saw some growing pains during their first year, but they’re looking forward to a second season. (Submitted by Tracy Fordham)

Fordham and Bezemer now have a tiny home set up on a cottage lot where they intend to retire, a short drive from the bridge at The Narrows, where they opened their food truck for the first time last summer.

The menu consists of a mix of burgers and hot dogs, poutine and fries, breakfast sandwiches and ice cream. Fordham’s favourite is the Greek Burger, Bezemer’s the Mexican Burger.

“I didn’t think I’d like it because it’s got jalapeno poppers on it,” he said. “Yet it just all comes together, and when Tracy made that first burger it was just like man, this is amazing.”

A menu shows a variety of food items for sale outside a food truck.
Daryle Bezemer didn’t think he’d like Tracy’s invention, the Mexican Burger, which comes with jalapeno poppers on it, but it’s now his favourite item on the Channel 204 Grill menu. (Submitted by Tracy Fordham)

There were growing pains that first year — delays opening, mechanical issues and big unanticipated costs. But the customers showed up in the end.

Heading into the second year of their business, Bezemer and Fordham say they’re eager to meet people again in the middle.

“The people here are amazing, and it’s good to see the people that have stayed and the people that have worked hard to become successful in this area,” said Bezemer.

Channel 204 Grill reopens again May long weekend, just east of the bridge at The Narrows.

Picnic tables are seen on the grass by a lake.
A view of Lake Manitoba Narrows from the site east of the bridge where Channel 204 Grill is set up as of May Long weekend. (Submitted by Tracy Fordham)