How does 25 percent off any check of $20 or more at any Black-eyed Pea sound? Or 20 percent off a food order at any of Picasso’s three neighborhood locations?

These are not your typical restaurant coupon offers, which tend to run toward a free drink or buy one entree, get a second lower-priced entree free. These are substantial, almost no strings attached deals, and you don’t see those very often. The Black-eyed Pea came in the mail; the Picasso’s came in my email.

But the Picasso’s coupon (which expires Monday) is up front: "Picasso’s would like to keep your wallet filled while your gas tank is emptying it."

This ties in to a couple of recent posts here about Advocate-area restaurants weathering $4 gas and the slowing economy. And it’s apparently not as bad here as elsewhere in the country. The National Restaurant Association reports that its business index has declined five of the past six months, "and their outlook for sales growth in the months ahead remains uncertain."