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Need To Escape War? How About A Frozen Yogurt

Dr. Esmatullah Nasiri enjoys a frozen yogurt with his grandson at CherryBerry in Kabul, Afghanistan on April 18, 2014. Fazul Rahim / NBC News

KABUL – In many countries, young workers head out for a quick bite or drink after work. In Kabul, they head to the very trendy “CherryBerry” and splurge on frozen yogurt.

"Here we can forget about problems. It is just for relaxing,” said Tarqiz Maroof, a young man who works as a computer analyst. "I do not think about the elections, I do not think about my job, I am just picking toppings," he added.

Dr. Esmatullah Nasiri, 62, brought his grandchildren who were visiting from Washington, D.C., for a treat on Friday.

“I just wanted to have some time with my grandchildren at this very nice place. We are here to enjoy our time,” said Nasiri. “It is a great spot to see happy faces.”

"There are traditional places to go, but none offer the atmosphere and peace you get here. CherryBerry is the only modern spot that you can have some relaxed time."

“I get a chance to speak with my fellow Afghans with different backgrounds … As a medical doctor I am telling you that it is very good for your health. It gives you energy and refreshes the mind.”

Located on a busy street in central Kabul, with a bright red awning and a gleaming interior, CherryBerry is impossible to ignore. That is exactly what 25-year old entrepreneur and Kabul franchise owner, Umer Sarfaraz, wants.

Along with three childhood friends, he dreamed of having an adventure, and making some money along the way.

CherryBerry in Kabul is so popular that an unarmed bouncer of sorts stands outside on April 18, 2014 to provide security. Kabul's one and only frozen yogurt outlet was quiet during prayer time on Friday afternoon, but the owners said they anticipated big crowds once prayers were over. Fazul Rahim / NBC News

"We were going around Dubai and saw a frozen yogurt place, and thought maybe it is good idea to introduce this,” said Sarfaraz.

They took their combined life savings of $200,000 and introduced frozen yogurt to Afghanistan.

The young businessmen say their frozen yogurt journey was initially far from sweet. They were swindled by Pakistani businessmen who claimed to hold the franchises for Afghanistan. In stepped the cavalry, in the form of the U.S. Embassy.

“The embassy organized Skype meetings, and invited us to a franchise meeting in Dubai. They supported us and we got direct contacts with America," said Sarfaraz.

When CherryBerry opened its doors in Kabul in June 2013, it was an overnight hit, with customers lining up outside to try this strange new food. The staff said it was a challenge to explain that it was not only self-service, but that you had to pick between all the flavors and toppings, a new concept for most.

After just six months, the business had already netted a profit of $50,000, a fortune by Afghan standards. Sarfaraz said he was bitten by the business bug, and with great pleasure he quit his very respectable job with the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Development.

Since then he has launched a second Cherry Berry in Mazar e Sharif and just last week, a third in Herat. His fellow investors have quit their jobs as well.

The owners say that over 80 percent of their customers are Afghans. But at $3 to $5 dollars a serving, CherryBerry is very expensive for most, since the average monthly salary in Afghanistan is just $130.

Actor and producer Idrees Salehi agrees the prices are high, but says it is worth every penny.

"There are traditional places to go, but none offer the atmosphere and peace you get here. CherryBerry is the only modern spot that you can have some relaxed time."

His wife, Fereshta, agreed. "I love it here, it is a great place. I know it is expensive, but it is not that bad. I am sure most families can afford it once in a while."

In a war-torn country, this is a place where people can experience a moment of normalcy, and feel CherryBerry happy.