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Home Stories: Marcellus Heleta

Ashley Feraude and Cass Atkinson

I love visiting hospitality people.

Marcellus (aka Mars) greeted us with a firm handshake at the front door—and two seconds later, our photographer, Cass, and I were ushered to a kitchen bench adorned with all sorts of little pots, a bottle of milk, an assortment of spices, and pineapple-shaped glassware which looked as though it was yearning to be filled with retro cocktails and little colourful umbrellas.

Mars announced it was a touch too early for booze (much to Cass’ disappointment), so instead we were offered spiced iced coffees complete with frozen coffee cubes. Not only were they delicious, but the healthy kick of caffeine propelled our conversation in both pace and excitement.

Mars shares his home with his girlfriend Marta and a housemate. Together, they reside at the Manhattan apartment complex in Civic. Manhattan it isn’t, but a distinctive development for Canberra it is—and from that elevation, our city has a completely different feel to it. You can hear and see life, and Mars explains that’s exactly why he loves it.

The household has a preference for sparse furniture so the roomy apartment maintains its freedom, interrupted only by either functional items or statement pieces (like that way-cool single arm chair). This approach perfectly complements the view presented by the floor-to ceiling windows.

Mars says he uses the apartment as an office, yet there is no sign of a desk—the only clue is a Mac laptop on the outdoor table. He denies he likes the spot because of the voyeuristic insight into all the neighbours, but I know better…people in hospitality like to observe how people tick—and by understanding them better, they provide brilliant service. So, if you sometimes feel you’re being watched in a restaurant, then you probably are (but it’s not as creepy as that rustling in the bushes outside your bathroom).

I first met Mars at Lucky’s at QT Canberra, where he was the venue manager and I was the DJ. From there, he moved onto AKIBA as manager for two years, then co-owned Lonsdale St Roasters and opened Wreckless by LSR in Canberra Centre, all the while consulting to numerous venues under the name Toucan Tipple. He’s now the general manager of Japanese restaurant RAKU. Mars credits Canberra’s “connectedness” for making a lot of that possible, and also the fact that we are evolving at a rapid pace as a city, which opens up immense opportunities.

What really surprised me was his answer to my question of how long ago we met—“three years.” Yep, he has achieved all that in three years and—if my instincts are anything to go by—I’m sure this is just the beginning. It’s a good thing we are friends now, so that I can bag free dinners at the numerous locations he is sure to own in a few years’ time: “Oh hi, yes I have a reservation under Feraude … Mars said he would look after it … we used to work together and I played all his ‘70s disco requests.”

Perhaps it was the coffee kicking in, but I was exhilarated by the conversation. Thing is, I’m inspired by the quiet achievers. You know, the people you assess on a first encounter and think you have them nicely packaged up…until a conversation three years later challenges everything you thought you knew. Rather than thinking, ‘what have I done with my life?’ I ask, ‘what will I do next?’…and I think I‘ll start with getting some pineapple-shaped glassware.











Read all of Ashley’s Home Stories series here and read about Canberra Centre’s home wares haven here.

Home Stories is brought to you in partnership with Canberra Centre

Photos by Cass Atkinson


Ashley Feraude

Ashley Feraude is a creative consultant, music producer and man-about-town. Under his Sound Technique agency, he provides award-winning consultancy services ranging from branding design, creative content development and event music direction for events and hospitality venues. Under the alias Magnifik, he produces award-winning original music filled with electronic soul and performs melodic DJ sets at numerous night spots, events and festivals. And if that wasn’t enough, Ashley is also the author of this insightful interior design editorial series. So is he suffering from split personality disorder and has an obsession over pointy awards? Not really...he just loves design, music and getting an insight into people’s personalities. Plus he likes being really busy. More about the Author


Cass Atkinson

Cass Atkinson is a photographer who loves shooting weddings & families when she's not shooting interiors & architecture. She’s equal parts homebody and adventurer who loves curling up with a book as much as a trip to somewhere new. She values authenticity, cheeky humour, unexpected details, doesn’t take herself too seriously, and the jam doughnut addiction runs deep. She’s a born & raised Canberra native and her hobbies include collecting vintage cameras & being sassed by her threenager. More about the Author

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