Pulciano's Deli and Cafe has been able to survive in the district since the business opened in 1994, but its owner was in favor of the proposed village and thinks more foot traffic would allow him to expand his hours.
"We're strictly 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. -- the area's pretty dead after that," Michael Pulciano, 48, said. "We have a nice lunch crowd, all local people. But I do have a banquet room on the side I could turn into a dinner hall easily. And I have a beer and wine license I'd like to put into use one day."
On Saturday, Mission Drive was alive with food vendors, entertainers and families enjoying the annual Grapevine Festival, an event that pays homage to the three aged grapevines in the Mission District. "They are tangible pieces of our history -- it has to do with a sense of continuity," explained Ellie Andrews, co-president of the San Gabriel Historical Assn.
But organized celebrations won't tide over business owners. And Councilman David Gutierrez thinks Mission Village -- with some tweaking -- ultimately holds the answer to revitalization.
"It really did hit the nail on the head," he said. "I'm hopeful the Ngs don't get frustrated to the point where they throw their hands up in the air and don't do anything, because that would be a big loss."
The Ngs will present a revised design to the City Council in August, but the opposition from residents has stung -- especially when they see fliers that read "Save the Mission District." That's what the brothers thought they were doing.
"We're in love with this space," Harvey Ng, 46, said. "It's our dream. If we go somewhere else, it will be totally based on economics, but this project was about passion, not profit. It was a long-term investment. But if you give someone a first-class ticket and they say, 'No, give me economy,' what can you do?"
In the meantime, Mission 261 will remain a ghost of its former self. Bought by the Ngs in 2002, it closed Feb. 10 in preparation for the construction whose start date has yet to appear. Leftover paper lanterns from a Chinese New Year celebration still hang from overhead lamps. Its ballrooms are empty, its kitchen silent.
The grapevine in the courtyard continues to grow.