Winchester restaurant owner claims country club used racial bias to oust business: Lawsuit

The owner of a local restaurant and bar is suing the Winchester Country Club he operated out of after being ousted for what he claims in a lawsuit is racial discrimination.

Rawle Sylvester Sommersall Sr., a Black man, is the owner and operator of Blue Isle Homes-Style Restaurant & Bar, LLC.

In a civil lawsuit filed in Clark County Circuit Court in March 2024, Sommersall claims he and the restaurant were kicked out of their principal place of business under the guise of a lease violation. The case has since been moved to federal court.

Sommersall argues the lease violation is untrue, and the decision to not renegotiate the lease was racially motivated, according to the lawsuit.

“The wrongful termination of the Plaintiffs’ lease and subsequent unlawful ouster from their place of business was motivated, in whole or in part, by racial animus, bias and the prejudice of members of the defendant, Winchester Country Club,” the lawsuit says.

He is suing for a violations of the rights to lease real property and make and enforce contracts, according to the suit. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges the country club breached a contract.

Sommersall signed a lease with the Winchester Country Club in December 2018 for a term of three years which took affect in February 2019 and concluded in January 2022.

The lease agreement contained a provision which would allow Sommersall and his business to renew the lease for two more years, according to the lawsuit. He did express interest, which would have allowed him to operate until Jan. 31, 2024.

According to the lawsuit, the terms of the lease extension were negotiated in Nov. 2021, and authorized by Gene Culton. Later, the board of the country club ratified the decision.

In an undated letter included in the lawsuit, Jason Rainey, the country club’s president, accused Sommersall of breaching their contract for failing to timely pay rent and utilities, presentation of general liability and a workers compensation insurance policy.

The letter stated the country club would re-enter the property on March 22, 2023, without having provided the 15-day notice to Sommersall as their contract outlined.

On March 6, 2023, representatives of Blue Isle were barred from entering the restaurant to get personal property and threatened by representatives of the country club who “used racially charged language in reference to the plaintiffs,” the lawsuit states.

Sommersall’s lawsuit demands a jury trial with a declaratory judgment the country club violated his Constitutional and statutory. He is also seeking punitive and compensatory damages.