Luke Bryan’s Nashville Bar Denies Overserving College Student Who’s Now Missing

A Nashville bar owned by country singer Luke Bryan has denied overserving a missing 22-year-old college student and contradicted his friends’ claims that he was forced to leave alone when he was kicked out of the bar.

Riley Strain, a University of Missouri senior, was last seen around 10 p.m. March 8 after being escorted out of Luke’s 32 Bridge. Surveillance camera footage shared by the Nashville Metro Police Department and a local business show Strain walking unsteadily, running, and at one point hitting a pole and falling to the ground, where he lay briefly before struggling to get to his feet and continuing to walk. He appears to be holding his head after the fall.

Riley Strain, a 22-year-old University of Missouri student, was last seen March 8 after he was kicked out of a Nashville bar.
Riley Strain, a 22-year-old University of Missouri student, was last seen March 8 after he was kicked out of a Nashville bar.

Nashville Metro Police Department

Questions have been raised about why Strain, who was visiting the city with fraternity members for a private event, left the bar alone.

In an interview with People magazine on Wednesday, Christopher Whiteid, Strain’s stepfather, said he was told by his son’s friends that the bar’s security staff stopped them from leaving. “The bouncers wouldn’t let them out with him, that they were trying to get their bill paid,” he said.

Strain’s father, Ryan Gilbert, shared a similar account with WZTV in Nashville, saying his son’s friend told him he wasn’t able to accompany him outside because he was paying the bar tab.

“He was put out of the bar by himself and there was a time that went by that his friend wasn’t able to get out,” Gilbert said. “We believe they were taking care of their bar tab or whatnot. By the time they got outside, he just wasn’t there any longer.”

But the TC Restaurant Group, which owns and operates Luke’s 32 Bridge in partnership with the singer, said that information they collected and shared with the police tells a different story.

“During Riley’s visit to Luke’s 32 Bridge, our records show he purchased and was served one alcoholic drink and two waters. At 9:35 p.m., our security team made a decision based on our conduct standards to escort him from the venue through our Broadway exit at the front of our building. He was followed down the stairs with one member of his party. The individual with Riley did not exit and returned upstairs,” the business said in a statement shared with HuffPost.

“In our effort to help the Nashville Metro Police Department’s Missing Persons investigation of Riley Strain, we proactively provided detailed information quickly after his visit to our business on March 8. This information included all security camera footage, photos of Riley at our establishment with detailed time stamps, transaction records, and staff accounts. Additionally, we proactively engaged in communication with the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission and will continue to communicate and provide any records needed to aid their ongoing investigation,” TC Restaurant Group and Luke’s 32 Bridge said.

A spokesperson for the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission confirmed to WZBT and other news outlets that it had launched an investigation into whether the bar had overserved Strain.

“There are no specific rules or statutes that governs escorting out intoxicated patrons from their businesses or providing assistance in getting someone home. However, state law prohibits serving alcoholic beverages to someone who is visibly intoxicated. A violation is a class A misdemeanor. The TABC has opened an investigation into this matter to see if any violations have occurred,” the TABC said in a statement.

Bryan shared a previous post by TC Restaurant Group on his Instagram story Tuesday that noted the restaurant group was assisting the police and urging people with information about Strain to come forward.

“Y’all this is scary. Praying for his safe return,” Bryan wrote.

Investigators have no reason to believe that Strain was a victim of a crime or had been in a fight, police Sgt. Robert Nielsen said at a news conference Thursday.

“There’s absolutely no indication whatsoever there’s any kind of foul play or other crime involved. … There’s no indication he was in a fight or argument with anybody on the street or anybody in any establishment he may have visited,” Nielsen said.

“We’re looking at this solely as a missing person case,” Nielsen said, but noted that this could change depending on the investigation.

Strain’s friends called 911 at about 1:40 p.m. Saturday when they couldn’t locate him, according to WSMV-TV in Nashville.

In the days that followed, the police launched a massive search by foot, water and air, including drones and a helicopter. They used boats equipped with sonar technology on the Cumberland River and combed a riverbank not far from where Strain was last seen on surveillance footage.

Strain’s mother, Michelle Whiteid, told Nashville TV station WTVF on Monday that she was used to speaking with her son several times a day.

“This is the longest I’ve ever gone without talking to him. It’s devastating. I just want to find him and hug him,” she said.

“He’s such a great kid, such a great kid. He’s supposed to graduate Mizzou in May,” Michelle Whiteid said. “We love you so much, so much, and we are all looking for you. All of us.”

Comments are closed.