What was the story behind Pam’s ban at Chili’s in The Office? The incident took place during the NBC sitcom’s second season and became a long-running joke for the rest of the series. The actress who played Pam, Jenna Fischer, has even poked fun at her character’s restaurant ban since the series ended in 2013.
When The Office first debuted, Pam was portrayed as good-natured but very reserved. Her attitude was passive in that she lacked the self-confidence to make changes to better her career and personal life. At the time, Pam was stuck in a three-year engagement with her boyfriend, Roy (David Denman). The lack of evolvement in their relationship greatly frustrated Pam. To make matters more complicated, the Dunder Mifflin receptionist harbored feelings for her co-worker Jim Halpert (John Krasinski).
Pam’s out of character incident occurred in The Office season 2 premiere, titled “The Dundies.” The episode featured Michael Scott’s (Steve Carell) annual awards show for his Scranton employees. The event was held each year at the local Chili’s restaurant and served as one of Michael’s favorite nights of the year. In the past, Pam always won the “World’s Longest Engagement” award but this time around, her relationship with Roy wasn’t targeted by Michael.
Michael clearly took the Dundies much more seriously than anyone else. The warehouse employees, including Roy, decided to ditch the event to go drink at a local bar. While Roy was leaving, he got into an argument with Pam before she returns to the restaurant to join Jim. Her relationship issues got the best of her so she decided to drown her sorrows in alcoholic beverages. Along with ordering her own drinks for the rest of the night, Pam also stole drinks off of other customers’ tables.
Pam drunkenly encouraged Michael to continue his awards show after he was being picked on by other customers. She was then awarded the “Whitest Sneakers” award which she celebrated, declaring “I feel God in this Chili’s tonight” before surprisingly kissing Jim. Pam became so drunk that she fell off her chair causing Dwight (Rainn Wilson) to rip off his shirt to put under her head since he thought she was having a seizure. Due to Pam’s behavior throughout the night, the Chili’s manager officially banned her from all of the restaurant’s locations.
In the original script, Pam was supposed to be overserved by Chili’s employees but the company was against the idea so they featured the character stealing drinks instead. The Dundies scenes were shot in a real Chili’s restaurant and many of the employees in the show were actual workers at the business. In 2017, more than a decade after Pam’s drunken incident in The Office, the restaurant chain decided to lift the permanent ban (via HuffPost). Fischer posted a hilarious nod about the episode and the company that owns Chili’s playfully replied back with an official press release.