The Comfort Zone provides an all-around upscale experience


600 S. Pennsylvania Ave., Lansing
11 a.m.-11 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday
11 a.m.-midnight Friday
Noon-midnight Saturday
Noon-8 p.m. Sunday
(517) 882-7500

She ate

Shortly after I became a member of the Lansing School Board, I had the opportunity to tour Willow Elementary School. I hadn’t been in that building before, and during the tour, I was completely blown away by the enthusiasm and love that poured out of the principal, Steve Lonzo.

When I learned last year that Lonzo was retiring, I was incredibly sad for the district. While I, too, don’t want to work forever, there are some people who I wish could, and Lonzo is one of them. But then I learned that he and his equally impressive wife, Re’Shane Lonzo, were purchasing the old Leo’s Outpost on South Pennsylvania Avenue and converting it into a restaurant and cigar lounge. Even better, the Comfort Zone is located in my county commission district, which matters to literally nobody but me.

To be frank, I was apprehensive about the amount of smoke that we would inevitably encounter while eating dinner in a cigar lounge. But while I did have to wash my hair that night and hang my coat outside, behaviors that reminded me of my undergraduate days, the smokiness inside the building was much less than I anticipated. The ventilation system is top of the line, and the smell of smoke was virtually unnoticeable by the time we sat down.

The Comfort Zone is a far cry from Leo’s Outpost. It’s draped in purple, with textures and lighting that make you want to hire a babysitter and find a corner to sit in with your husband. If a building can be sexy, this one is. It has been absolutely beautifully renovated and was very clearly a labor of love for the Lonzos.

Mr. She Ate and I love a crab cake, and we were excited to try the Comfort Zone’s version. The appetizer was expensive, $32 for two large crab cakes, and our server didn’t bring smaller plates for us to use while we ate. Not a problem for myself and my spouse, but this could be extremely awkward if you were with a colleague with whom you didn’t want to share a plate. The crab cakes were above average, very large and drizzled with romesco sauce. However, for that price, I expected much more lump crab meat.

For my entrée, I chose the hand-cut New York strip steak ($55), which the menu claimed would come with mashed potatoes and fresh broccolini. What was actually on my plate was broccoli, which I still love, but there’s something about those long broccolini stems. When I placed my order, our server didn’t ask me how I wanted the steak prepared, which gave me pause, but to his credit, he came back a few minutes later to inquire.

The steak was wonderfully medium rare, as I requested. The sear on the outside was crisp, while the texture inside was smooth. It was topped with a generous amount of herby compound butter, which complemented every bite. I would definitely order this again.

Mr. She Ate chose the chicken alfredo ($25), which he reported as being unoffensive but not particularly memorable. What was memorable was that when we stood up to leave, who should walk in but my co-reviewer and his fabulous better half? We sat right back down with them and proceeded to talk each other’s ears off until their entrees were delivered to the table.


He ate

Opened last fall by a pair of educators turned entrepreneurs, the Comfort Zone Cigar Lounge & Bistro took over the former site of Leo’s Outpost (and before that, DeMarco’s) and transformed the interior into a modern, luxurious space with cozy couches, plenty of TV screens, private celebration rooms and topflight libations. It’s also positioning itself as a hangout for Lansing’s upper crust with tiered memberships offering various VIP opportunities.

Couple that with the philanthropic nature of its proprietors, Re’Shane and Steve Lonzo, who have spent decades supporting Lansing-area causes. They’ve committed 10% of monthly food sales to nonprofit organizations around Greater Lansing. Eating, drinking and puffing, all for a good cause.

What’s comfy

This is a cigar lounge that serves higher-end food. As such, when you enter, the smell of cigars is palpable. My much better half and I ventured out on a Saturday evening to celebrate another trip around the sun for her. We were greeted most graciously by Katreva Bisbee, another friendly educator, who was occupying the role of hostess for the evening. On our way to the table, we ran into Mrs. and Mr. She Ate, who were also enjoying an evening away from rambunctious little ones.

Once seated, our kind waitress highlighted the evening’s specials and patiently waited as we made up our minds. We don’t get out much alone, so we were initially enjoying both the ambience and each other’s company rather than focusing on the menu. While we waited for our drinks, I noticed the gentleman seated directly next to us, not 3 feet away, was smoking a cigar. However, the ventilation system is top-notch, and we were never inundated by smoke, though we both smelled of smoke when we walked out.

What about the bistro?

The food itself was a series of ups and downs. The crab cake appetizer ($32) featured two large, flat patties with some crab meat, but there was far too much filler for the price. I was expecting a chunkier crab cake with much more crab meat. Also, the romesco sauce was only on the top cake, and there wasn’t enough to slather on the bottom layer.

The birthday girl enjoyed her lobster tail dinner ($55), served with butter, lemon-herb risotto and Brussels sprouts (her favorite). The tails were smaller than anticipated and cooked in the shell rather than on top as one would typically expect at a fancier restaurant. The risotto was basically room temperature, but the sprouts were deliciously charred and seasoned.

For dessert, we both enjoyed the Key lime tart ($8), which was sweet and sour in the best of ways. The creaminess of the lime filling and whipped topping was divine.

Best bite

I ordered the sea scallops ($34), and they were exquisite. Pan-seared to golden-brown perfection, the four scallops were flavorful and a great size. The scallops and grilled asparagus were a lovely distraction from the same lukewarm risotto. If the side dish would have been spot-on, this would have been my favorite dish of 2024 so far.

At the end of our meal, our waitress was keen to hear our impressions to share with the chef, who was curious about our thoughts since most visitors see the Comfort Zone’s prices and opt for the $15 fried chicken wings. I can’t help but wonder if the Lansing market can continue to keep the Comfort Zone alive. Particularly given current economic conditions, I, for one, am rooting for it.


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