At first glance, you may think that there is a teenage girl sitting in front of the bookshelves. It is not; it is actually a mural outside the open area of the Ampersand Café and Bookstore. Nestled in the heart of Oxford Street, Paddington, this secondhand bookstore is a one stop shop – a place where you can eat food, read books and appreciate artwork.
Opposite of the shop is the Verona Cinema, and so it is a perfect place for the movie goers to come over here for food and chit chat before or after the movie. It is no exception to me. I turned up at the shop before taking in a movie last week.
The shop offers a great selection of sandwiches, pastas and salads. Upon ordering a light meal at the counter, I sat in the outdoor seating where I could enjoy looking at the artwork on the walls and the street scene.
Perhaps I looked puzzled when I examined the mural. When the staff brought me the food, she told me that the names inscribed on the side panels of the books on the mural were indeed done by the customers. You can view the large image of the top photo, and you'll know what I am referring to. I wouldn't have thought about this as the added names appear to blend in so well with the mural.
The bookshop has three levels, housing a wonderful array of over 30,000 second-hand books for your exploration. Designed in an old style setting, you'll find wooden bench tables, old style hanging lights and seatings, offering you a unique and cosy ambience.
Adding to the store character, you'll find some paintings hanging on the walls and they are offered for sale. You can choose to enjoy the food or the coffee upstairs while reading the books. The best spot would be the area close to the windows, where sunlight comes through them. Once you settle yourself on the comfortable, old-style arm chair, you'll find yourself sinking into the state of reading pleasure easily.
Artwork are hanging on the walls when you walk upstairs
In a concrete city, you wouldn't imagine there'll be a bookshop where you are surrounded by lovely artwork and a great collection of used books, as well as a great outdoor dining area. Ampersand Café and Bookstore is an exception to the rule.