Pereira O'Dell's Barrel House

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San Francisco's Pereira O'Dell is located at 217 2nd St, just off Howard St., but the agency actually has another home -- it's called Barrel House. While the official office has the agency's name right there on the side of the building, Barrel House is just a little nondescript door down a small street full of nondescript doors. But inside reveals something that looks and feels like a cross between a backroom speakeasy and Al Swearengen's joint in Deadwood. Built in 1906, it doesn't look a day over 102.

From the low wood ceilings over the ancient bar, the room opens up into a high, open space. The rustic vibe is strong enough to forget that up a flight of narrow stairs are conference rooms and offices, and it used to be the agency's only dwelling.

After moving to the new place, PJ Pereira and Andrew O'Dell couldn't completely walk away from the Barrel House charm. Last year marked the beginning of what's become a regular SF ad party, where ad folks of all stripes gather, artists like We Are Scientists, Tommy Guerrero, Wyclef Jean and Kate Voegle play and money is raised for charity. We spoke to Pereira about the Barrel House events and more.

Where did the idea to throw charity events here come from?
When we prepared the whole thing for presentations we realized that it might work for music as well. We were able to get We Are Scientists to play here and it was a lot of fun and made us want to turn it into a regular thing. The events are cool because it's free, no one pays to drink and it's not branded by Pereira O'Dell or anything. It's just that we had the space where we could do something like this in a very inexpensive way. This industry is about excitement and getting excited about things and maybe these events are another way to give back to this community that's given us so much. It's also a great way to get everyone involved for a good cause. You've got a band promoting a charity to a bunch of people who want to get together and have some fun. We have the space and clients that are willing to provide the beer and snacks and there you go.

How are the events planned?
There's no set schedule, really. Usually we hear of bands that are going to be in the area and we pick up the phone and call. Sometimes they say yes, sometimes they say no. But usually they say yes. It's a lot of work for us here, just getting everything organized and then working the event serving the drinks and all that, so we're not doing something every week but we do try to do something every 45 to 60 days.

Any plans to expand on what you've started here?
We're talking about starting a separate company that we can run entertainment-based projects out of with our clients, so there is some possibilities there. It's not really a big investment, just a matter of taking advantage of opportunities as they come up.

Also, we're actually moving some people back in to the office space in the next couple months. We originally moved out because we outgrew it and now we need to send some people back because we're outgrowing the new space as well. But the lower floor will still be for meetings and events. I actually think the place is even cooler when people learn that we still actually work there.

What does a place like the Barrel House say about the agency?
It's actually one of the first things people hear about us. For a lot of our employees, their first contact with us was coming to an event here. People here get inspired and feel good putting together these events but there's also the fact we're giving back to the community without pitching ourselves. Our name isn't even on the door. It's all about giving back and having fun, period.

If you're in the San Francisco area this Friday, July 17, check out the next Barrel House event with a show by Buckfast Superbee to raise money for the Huntington's Disease Society of America.
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