After nearly nine years, the Water Works restaurant - one of the city's more atmospheric fine-dining experiences, with ornate chandeliers and stunning views of the Schuylkill from its perch at the foot of the Art Museum - has stopped serving a la carte meals altogether.

It's open for private dining and special events only.

The Water Works had been paring its hours of operation; most recently, it had been serving weekends for dinner and Sundays for brunch.

Owner Michael Karloutsos confirmed the transition to private dining and special events. "We're in the midst of a healthy and robust catering season," he said.

The building, which dates to the 19th century, is the site of the nation's first water-pumping station. The politically adroit Karloutsos navigated miles of red tape in converting the Water Works into a restaurant. The $3.2 million project was financed with a $2.1 million taxpayer loan from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., which the Karloutsos family backed with their personal property as collateral.

Three years ago, an investigation by "It's Our Money," a joint project of the Daily News and WHYY funded by the William Penn Foundation, disclosed that the city had been paying the Water Works' utilities.