History Hidden in Plain Sight

On your way home, stop at the Blue Dome


The Blue Dome opened for business in 1940. John J. Smith (1876-1955), a Valley Streamer who lived on Miriam Street, built an eight-stool hamburger stand, surrounded by a picket fence. “On your way home stop at the Blue Dome. Five hamburgers for 10¢ on carry-out orders only,” read an ad in the February 11, 1941, issue of Newsday.

The Blue Dome was a curious name for a restaurant that could not claim any sphere-shaped architectural references. Four domes did eventually grace the building, but they were added in the early 1950s when Wilmer Carlson (1904-1979) purchased the tiny 20’ by 20’ building. Carlson enlarged the hamburger stand and renamed it the Snow White Restaurant. Counter space increased, 21 stools instead of eight, and “Hollywood booths” (seating inspired by Hollywood set designers) lined the circumference of the room. A 100-seat dining room complete with a domed ceiling was added on the western side. Some folks remember a mural of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on the ceiling. Tom McAleer, superintendent of buildings, Village of Valley Stream, has generously provided information on the structure’s history.

Rich Macioce, Central High School graduate, and guitarist for the 1960s band Brooklyn Bridge shared a memory: “I played a gig at the Snow White in the early sixties. The dome created an aural illusion in the dining room. If you stood at one edge of the dome, a friend standing at the opposite rim could hear you speaking softly.” Rich is right, of course – a curved surface reflects sound and produces echoes. By 1967, the restaurant was known as the Snow Valley Inn. “Every once in a while I stumble across an old-fashioned restaurant with home-style cooking and old-fashioned prices. The Snow Valley Inn looks like a diner that expanded into a dining room with 1940s decor. The menu is German-American and serves knockwurst, corned beef and cabbage, roast beef and ham. Potato pancakes were crisp and great,” reported Barbara Radar in her March 2, 1975, Newsday restaurant review. One year later, in 1976, German food was replaced with Asian cuisine when the Cheng Yu Chinese Restaurant opened its doors. Since the mid-1980s, a dental practice has occupied the space.

Before the Blue Dome, there was Carl Hoppl’s – a humble hot dog stand on Merrick Road across from the lake. Hoppl’s eventually morphed into a full-service eatery and nightclub, and although it was larger in scale than the Snow White or Snow Valley, both venues followed a similar trajectory.

Location: 417 West Merrick Road

(northwest corner of North Waldinger Street)