The Keg Royalties Income Fund said Tuesday that third-quarter system sales in the steakhouse chain were up 8.7 per cent from a year earlier at $116.8 million, largely thanks to the addition of more locations.

That's an acceleration from 6.6 per cent year-over-year sales growth in the second quarter.

The trust's royalty pool sales grew 4.9 per cent to $108.0 million for the 13 weeks ended Sept. 28, reflecting "the very successful new Keg restaurants which were added to the royalty Pool on Jan. 1, 2008, as well as same-store sales growth from comparable restaurants," the fund stated. 

The Keg, expected to release full quarterly results in early November, said sales at restaurants open a year or more grew 1.1 per cent in Canada but declined 8.3 per cent in the United States, partly because of negative currency impacts. 

Other U.S. restaurant chains also have suffered in the current environment.

Darden Restaurants said that its Olive Gardens subsidiary saw same-store sales rise 2.4 per cent in the fiscal first quarter.

But Darden's Red Lobster and Longhorn Steakhouse had poor quarters, down 3.7 per cent and 4.9 per cent in  same-store sales respectively.  

"The U.S. economy continues to experience a major downturn and the Keg's U.S. restaurants, which represent less than 13 per cent of the Keg's overall sales, have been impacted along with the entire restaurant industry," commented Keg's CEO David Aisenstat. 

"On a relative basis, however, we remain satisfied with our performance amongst U.S. casual dining establishments."