An American Dream on 34th Avenue

Discover how Sway Cafe thrived during a pandemic—despite all odds

The European-style coffee shop in Long Island City, Sway Cafe, has captured the hearts—and appetites—of locals throughout the last year. Conceived during the pandemic, long-time high school friends, Aung Myat and Shawn Tiwari, embarked on a new business venture together to create something they were both passionate about—coffee! We sat down with Tiwari to learn more about his dedication to the craft and future business endeavors.

GMA: What inspired you and Myat to open Sway Cafe?

ST: We always knew that we wanted to start a business together, and after kicking around a few ideas, it became clear that we both were crazy for coffee. When I lived in Atlanta, Georgia, training mechanics for Delta, I was sick of settling for the run-of-the-mill drip coffee, so I invested in an espresso machine. I used to sell espresso cups to my colleagues, and before I knew it, the espresso machine had paid for itself.

GMA: Why did you choose to open your cafe in Queens?
There’s no place like home! Myat and I grew up here, went to school here, our family is here, and we both knew we wanted to give back to the community. It was tough seeing a lot of local businesses close during the pandemic, so when we set out on this new business venture, we wanted to honor the former Balkan cafe, keeping a lot of the former recipes, and help revive 34th avenue off of Steinway with a hub where locals from all different walks of life could come together and enjoy local, fresh ingredient dishes as well as artisanal coffee.

GMA: Where do you source your local fresh ingredients?
Our coffee, pastries, and ingredients are sourced locally from the Astoria/LIC area. We get our fresh pastries from a local baker and our beans come from the Dallis Bros. Coffee company. While our crepes, avocado toast, and egg sandwich ingredients are sourced from local markets in the neighborhood as well. We wanted the customer to be able to taste the quality. This is why we taste-test our espresso machine every week to ensure it’s always performing at its best.

GMA: Now that sway has been open for a year, what’s next?
A beer tavern! We recently bought the property next door and have been busy renovating it over the past few months. I was inspired by my uncle’s girlfriend, who owns a cafe in Berlin that serves polish cuisine and employs a custom of taking espresso shots before a night of drinking. I’ve taken an espresso shot before a night out ever since, and I wanted to compliment sway cafe by opening a Mediterranean-style tavern too. In addition to beer, we plan to have small dishes on the menu, like paninis, cheese boards, and sandwiches. Stay tuned for the announcement of the grand opening.

Be sure to stop by Sway Cafe located on 4110 34th Avenue, open from 8am to 8pm, to try one of the best egg sandwiches and freshly brewed cappuccinos in LIC.

4110 34th Ave | 929.208.4763 | @swaycafeny