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Daily Digest: Tin Roof and Madra Rua bartender makes do on bites of lumpia through shift

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Crystal Higgins is a bartender at Tin Roof and Madra Rua. Provided

This is part of The Post and Courier’s Daily Digest series, in which one of our food reporters asks a local to describe a day of eating in detail.

Crystal Higgins is a bartender at Tin Roof in West Ashley and Madra Rua in Park Circle. She lives in North Charleston. 

My alarm went off at 5:30 a.m., so my response was, "Nope, nope, nope. Snooze." 6 a.m. rolled around and, somehow, that extra half-hour does the trick. 

I got to Madra Rua in Park Circle around 7:05 a.m. in my Christmas onesie, ready to take our Christmas photo with the rest of my pub family.

Liverpool played at 7:30 a.m. and it was a Saturday at the pub, which means brunch. I had a cup of coffee and smoked a cigarette while waiting for the rest of the bar staff to get ready for our pictures. I've got to say, we have one pretty adorable pub family.

Once the bar was all set up, it was time for the second cup of coffee and steak and eggs Benedict with a side of greens. I knew I was going to need all the sustenance I could get for the long day ahead. The steak was at a perfect medium rare, and I slammed it into my face while standing next to the ice machine and trash can in the main server station.

I'm pretty terrible at remembering basic things like drinking water, so Ricky Dunn, my bar manager and "bartner" for the day, and I have started looking out for each other. We make a point to remind each other to drink water as much as possible when working together, and honestly it's the most wholesome, endearing game we play behind the bar. The other games probably shouldn't be published.

The brunch crowd rolled in and out, and I had an hour or so before it was time to head off to Tin Roof for the night.

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At Tin Roof, I not only bartend but I’m also the house Filipina. I got in and checked the kitchen to see if I needed to speed-roll some lumpia before the punk show started. We've recently started doing smaller and shorter shows at Tin Roof, so there's no telling how the night will play out.

At both bars, we are strict about following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, so naturally we have to deal with some rebels occasionally.

About 7:30 p.m., an unexpected thought crossed my mind: "I should eat now before everything gets started."

I dropped two pieces of lumpia into the fryer, and in true food-and-beverage industry fashion, the people started rolling in right then. It took about two hours of single bites over a trashcan for me to completely consume the lumpia. I was also chugging as much soda water as I could to rehydrate not only my body but also my bubbly personality.

Whiskey Warfare and Shem Creeps took the stage as punks filed in, and the night went on flawlessly with no major issues. You could really feel how grateful everyone was to be able to experience live music again.

I called for last call around 10:40 p.m. and had everyone out by 10:55 p.m. with no arguments or complaints. That's always a dream come true.

Johnny Puke, my "bartner" through all of this, and I then proceeded to clean and count money. We finished with enough time to share a shot and a beer before heading to our respective homes before midnight. Unreal. 

I went home, smoked a cigarette, chugged a San Pellegrino and passed out.

Reach Kalyn Oyer at 843-371-4469. Follow her on Twitter @sound_wavves.

Kalyn Oyer is a Charleston native who covers arts & entertainment and food & bev for The Post and Courier. She's a music festival & concert photographer and used to write about music for the Charleston City Paper, among other publications.

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