I could hear the excitement in Re’Shane Lonzo’s voice as she discussed The Comfort Zone Cigar Lounge & Bistro, a new Black-owned space that opened last month in the building that formerly housed Leo’s Outpost.
“When we saw that Leo’s had closed and was on the market, we thought it would be a great building to revitalize and keep alive, to kind of carry some kind of mantle,” she said.
Lonzo and her husband, Steve, bought the 4,230-square-foot space at 600 S. Pennsylvania Ave. in January. They thought it was the perfect spot for a concept they’d been considering for several years. Both avid travelers, the duo often finds their way into the many wayward cigar shops where Steve, “a cigar connoisseur,” likes to make pilgrimages.
“When we travel and go to different places, I’m always looking for the other benefits of that place. So, if it’s a cigar lounge, I want to make sure that it has good food or drinks because I might not always be in the mood to smoke a cigar. But, if I can accompany him, it makes it an enjoyable space for both of us to have date night and spend time together,” Lonzo said.
“We spent the last couple of years thinking about how cool it would be to have something like this in Lansing,” she added.
They did some research on dedicated cigar lounges in the Lansing area and found that there weren’t any that also offered meals and alcoholic beverages. By opening The Comfort Zone, the pair also became the proprietors of the only Black-owned cigar lounge in the Lansing area.
The business held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 16. Now staffed with 15 employees and hiring more by the week, The Comfort Zone rosters more than 350 brands of cigars — a number that is also constantly growing. It also has “seven or eight” vendors that visit each month for tastings and events.
“We have traveled around the country to establish new relationships with vendors that now have cigars in our humidor,” Lonzo said. “Each month, we’ve been able to negotiate with these vendors we do business with and get them to come to our city, sit down, do a cut-and-light and tell us about the history of their cigars.”
Wednesday (Nov. 29) from 4 to 8 p.m., the business will host a representative from the Nicaragua-based company My Father Cigars. Lonzo said it’s the first time the brand has held a tasting in Lansing. Oliva Cigar Co., also based in Nicaragua, is set to make its first trip to Michigan in January. Padron Family Reserve, which typically has a three-year waiting list, has also signed a contract with The Comfort Zone.
Additional offerings include a full drink menu with specialty cocktails and food options like pasta, flatbread pizzas, steak, scallops and salads. Another highlight is an expansive brunch menu.
In the future, the pair would like to work with charity organizations to give back to the community. One idea they’ve floated is to host a classic car and cigar show and donate the proceeds to a local nonprofit.
“This is where we live and play. We believe in this community, and that’s why we invest in this community,” Lonzo said. “That’s why we wanted to do something that was so unique and different, something that has the potential to cross those lines in the sand and bring us all together in a different way. That’s what we have found here.”
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