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Il Cigno Drops Tent

Tired of fighting, Lake Anne restaurant owner pulls down controversial outdoor canopy.

<bt>After nearly three years, the owner of Il Cigno Ristorante took down his much debated tent that covered his outdoor seating overlooking Lake Anne over the weekend, replacing it with several smaller umbrellas.

When Tony Arbid bought the restaurant three years ago, he put up the tent, or more accurately put up three tents and pushed them together, much to the dismay of some neighboring businesses and residents on and around Washington Plaza at Lake Anne, including the members of the Lake Anne Condo Association and the Lake Anne Merchants Association. Perhaps more importantly, some county planning and zoning officials also took an interest in the upscale Italian eatery's canopy. What ensued was a soap opera of lawsuits, complaints, county hearings about a tent that opponents claimed did not fit with the size or character of the historic Lake Anne Village Center.

"I am tired of fighting. It was my decision to take it down," Arbid said on Monday. "After all this time, it is time that I focus on my restaurant, my new chef and my business. I just had to put an end to all the bigotry and concentrate on the positive."

Arbid said he has always been a good neighbor and he will never understand those who worked to bring the tent down, saying that 9 out 10 people who worked and lived around his restaurant supported his fight. The proprietor added that the county's insistence on trying to bring down his tent would have repercussions on other businesses around Lake Anne. "They have opened a can of worms here and I don't know if they will be able to close it," he said, adding that he expects to see other similar temporary structures taken down, as well. "It's cost me a lot of money, but it's done, finally. Now I can get back to my customers."