A Deeply Rooted Family Tradition

Blackie Donnelly, husband of Margie Clancy Donnelly, in Little Rock in the late 1930s

A New Smyrna Beach tradition for more than three decades, Clancy's Cantina first opened in the late spring of 1983 in a small storefront in the Indian River Shopping Center on 3rd Avenue. It was the dream of Bill Clancy — who had already retired from a career in the Air Force and then a second career with Lockheed — and his wife Marianne.

The restaurant quickly became a local favorite and in late 1984 moved to a larger space in the same shopping center. With larger seating capacity came a full liquor license, and the Clancy's margarita was born.

In 2010, Clancy's — now owned by two of Bill and Marianne's 10 children, twins Matt and Margaret — moved into a former neighborhood grocery on Flagler Avenue. With bright, streetfront seating, a covered outdoor patio, and the same famous margaritas, Clancy's soon become an anchor in the vibrant beachside shopping, dining and tourist district.

The Cantina's roots, though, go deeper than that — back to 1920s Texas, where Bill Clancy's mother, Margie Clancy Donnelly, began cooking her own style of Texas-influenced Mexican food to help pay the bills while her husband, Robert Clancy, a wildcat oilman, was away at the oilfields.

After Robert's death, Margie married Blackie Donnelly, a former Texas Ranger, and the two moved in 1935 to Little Rock, Arkansas, where they opened Mexico Chiquito using the recipes Margie had developed during her years in southern Texas. The restaurant is still in business today and still known, just like Clancy's Cantina, for Margie's special chile con queso, legitimately believed to be the origin of the Tex-Mex queso dips now found on the menu of virtually every Mexican restaurant in America.