It's been a few years since I've worked in the foodservice industry, but I've always had a healthy respect for those who work in a restaurant. For years, one common restaurant courtesy used to be ILLEGAL right here in the Hawkeye State.

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I pride myself on always being kind to wait staff. If something goes wrong or the wait for your table is too long it usually isn't in their control. Also, because of my background working in food service PLUS my own mom being a frequent waitress/manager; I try to be a fair tipper.

Photo by Ibrahim Boran on Unsplash
Photo by Ibrahim Boran on Unsplash

Iowa has its own specific rules when it comes to tips. The state law allows employers to actually count your tips and they can even take a small bit of the money you've earned if you are a server. You can check out more rules and regulations about tipping here.

However, ethically speaking the question of how much you should tip is still up for debate. According to the Table Gent, the average percentage you should tip your waitstaff is 15% if they provided less than stellar service, and 20% if the service is above average.

Couple ordering from a waitress in restaurant

The reason why you should be tipping no matter what is because the average server makes well below minimum wage before tips. It's a complicated mess, but let's try and walk through it together.

The Basic Combined Cash & Tip Minimum Wage Rate in Iowa is $7.25, and the Minimum Cash Wage is $4.35, according to the Deparment of Labor. 

There are so many laws surrounding tipping, if you go back far enough in Iowa's history, you'll learn that tipping was actually illegal here.

Law, lawyer attorney and justice concept, male lawyer or notary working on a documents and report of the important case in the law firm
Ngampol Thongsai

This law went into effect in 1916 after going through the General Assembly of Iowa. Iowans were not allowed to tip employees of restaurants, hotels, transportation employees, or even  barbershops.

Slipping someone some cash to show your appreciation would be considered a misdemeanor, and this misdemeanor would be against the tipper AND the tippee. Both parties could get arrested, as get a 10-day stay in prison, and a fine.

A politician from Waterloo proposed this new law back in the day. Representative Arch W. McFarlane thought tipping was so bad that this new law would mean a, "savings of many thousands of dollars to the people of Iowa."

The Anti-Tipping Law was in place for four years and was put to rest in 1919, but not before an American President could get into some trouble.

Woodrow Wilson and his wife broke the law when they visited Des Moines in 1916. The first lady gave a quarter tip (as in 25 cents) to the cloakroom girl, and Woodrow tipped the newspaper boy a dime.

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