The Chess Piece at YFC serves up an exceptional experience to visitors, locals
An evening shift behind the bar is proprietor Patti Hollengberg’s favourite time to work at the Chess Piece at YFC, her in-house café at the airport, for the chance to meet people coming and going from Fredericton.
“I don’t get the chance to play bartender very often,” she says. “It’s a lot of fun.”
People will pull up a chair, relax, talk about their upcoming trips, and show her pictures of their dogs and kids. All the while, they’re enjoying Patti’s delicious food and fresh local drinks, including a wide assortment of craft beers from Fredericton’s extensive pool of producers.
“Our goal is to make their experience better,” she says. “If they’re having a good time, then we’ve done our job.”
Taking hospitality personally
Patti founded Chess Piece Pâtisserie in downtown Fredericton in 2014. Since then, it’s built a reputation as the capital city’s go-to spot for premium Parisian-inspired products, including pastries, sweets, a la carte lunches, and more. It’s grown to include the Queen Street Creamery, a seasonal house-made ice cream truck, and the Chess Piece Market, which offers fine cheeses and charcuterie.
Her two locations in the airport – inside the departures lounge and in the arrivals area – opened in 2021 as part of the terminal expansion. There, she offers a streamlined version of her menu, serving up handmade desserts, soups and sandwiches, and delicious coffee and drinks, many incorporating exceptional local ingredients from area farmers and food processors.
“If you want a good product, you have to start with good ingredients,” says Patti, who is both owner and executive chef, with a double degree in Culinary and Pastry Arts from the Culinary Institute of Canada.
That no-compromise standard applies to her “awesome” team behind the counter at YFC.
“If you want good service, you have to start with good people. I’ve always been fortunate to surround myself with people who aren’t content with the status quo.”
She and her team take their role as ambassadors seriously. Patti makes it her mission to offer an elevated yet welcoming impression of Fredericton.
“We are representing the region,” she says. “To me, that is a big deal. I’m proud of my community.”