Contractors working on the Oak Island Pier have driven pilings at 52 of the structure’s 68 sections and are on track to be finished by Memorial Day weekend, officials reported.

About two-thirds of the new railings are done, said Town Manager David Kelly. Work inside the restaurant and retail space is almost finished, and the town expects to turn that portion of the pier complex over to a private operator on or about April 1, he said. Workers still need to add lights to the ramp area, he said.

“Everything is going good and it’s going as planned,” Kelly said.

When finished, the 880-foot pier will be among the state’s longest and tallest and include two fishing tees. Along the center, well over the water, the pier will have reinforced fiberglass grating instead of solid wood planks. This grating is designed to absorb energy from high waves without adding stress to the main structure.

The town plans to hire six part-time workers and one full-time person to operate the fishing pier and tackle shop, expected to open Memorial Day weekend.

Town Council has tentatively agreed to lease the restaurant and retail space to Austin Alfonso and Alexis Oxendine. The couple, along with her mother Melanie Woodell, operate Cafe Koa in Southport and Kai Joe’s at Oak Island.

Kelly said he hoped to present the final lease to council at its regular March 12 meeting at 6 p.m.

“It is our intent to be in the kitchen cooking, to manage the front of the house, design a menu that suits both locals and tourists, to design all aspects of this location and most importantly give it our best,” Oxendine wrote in her proposal. “We will design this restaurant and retail space to be so much more than ‘a place to eat.’ It will have a soul and a dedication behind it like no other.”

The restaurant will have a full service bar and dine-in experience, she wrote. There will be a small indoor bar and a large outdoor bar, with an off-premise license for beer and wine. The restaurant will have lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.

The retail space will have a small cafe with quick-serve items such as specialty coffee drinks, bagels, smoothies, acia bowls, ice cream and hot dogs (no alcohol). It will have seating and WiFi, she wrote. It will be family friendly, fast and more affordable than the main restaurant, she wrote.