Mighty Michelin

The essential restaurant guide buys European reservation service Bookatable

Michelin, the guide book behind one of the most recognized restaurant rating systems in the world, just took a giant step into the digital present and future. The company is now the owner of Bookatable, the largest reservation system in Europe (for the unfamiliar, think OpenTable), which handles reservations for 15,000 restaurants across the continent.

With the reservation company comes a mobile payment system, Eater reports. That means diners can now search for restaurants (including user reviews like on Yelp), reserve a table at them and pay for their meals all in one place. The two companies have been testing the waters through a partnership since 2013, but yesterday's move puts everything under the umbrella of one company.

While that all sounds nice and easy for users, it raises concerns about the potential conflict of interest. Restaurants in the U.S. have long accused Yelp of penalizing those who don't advertise with the review site. Could something similar happen with Michelin/Bookatable? Could restaurants who opt out of the reservation service be hurt? Those who opt in helped? With one company controlling so many parts of the market, it seems like the lines could get blurred quickly.